This month there have been a lot of visits to our farm; starting with an excellent visit by seven chefs from the Firmdale Hotel Group. This amazing group of hotels are world leaders in the industry and are known for being some of the most unique and chic boutiques hotels you will find anywhere.
Joan and I try to visit our customers in London every two weeks at the moment, with the game season in full swing pheasant, partridge and venison are at the top of our list of things to sell, as well as the turkeys and geese for Thanksgiving and fast-approaching Christmas, though thankfully, we’re almost sold out!
Twenty-four students from the Cordon Bleu Cookery School visited us last week to find out more about food production and the importance of using the best ingredients. The students came from all four corners of the world, with some of them having no idea regarding the process of producing meat using organic farming methods.
We were also visited by three chefs and their front of house teams from the Novotel Hotel Group, who are busy preparing to open a new concept sky-top restaurant in Canary Wharf in January. This exciting new bar and restaurant, situated on the 37th and 38th floors of the building, will provide diners the opportunity to dine with an amazing 360 degree view of London! The restaurant will be a great addition to this part of London and we are very proud to be a part of their journey. Even the turkeys, who by now have been on the farm for 7 months, came out in force to give them a big welcome!
The team at Rhug very much support a new Welsh food and drink initiative by the Welsh Assembly which aims to put a focus on Welsh produce, how it is produced, where it is produced and where people can buy it. Chefs are no longer just satisfied with a quality product, they want the whole story behind how it is produced and the Welsh Government have been very pro-active in promoting local artisan producers, like Rhug, through shows and other various media channels. We in Wales, are all very lucky to have this support from the Welsh Government and we hope that Rhug can work alongside them for many years to come.
The year has flown by and here we are already at the end of October! The weather still remains unseasonably mild with daily temperatures of 17°C and the grass is still growing. The autumn colours have been spectacular following a dry summer and autumn and I think we can all agree that the countryside looks so beautiful in a coat of yellows, reds and browns.
When I was young, Halloween was a non-event and only something that was of any relevance in the States. By now it has grown into an international celebration with children and adults dressing up and going trick or treating. The Americanised Halloween actually originated in the Celtic fringes of Britain and was adapted by Christian traditions, immigrants' conventions and an insatiable desire for sweets. The word comes from 'Hallowed evening', and is the day before All Hallows Day - also known as All Saints' Day.
Even the Bison got into the Halloween spirit with a game of football with a pumpkin. On the farm we have been busy TB testing all our cattle, an annual chore that we could do without, this involves bringing the cattle in and running each animal through a race whilst the vet test each one to see if it might be positive for TB. These are anxious times because it is every farmers’ nightmare to find a reactor then the animal has to be put down and the whole process repeated every six weeks until the heard is clear, a very time-consuming, costly and stressful experience for everyone concerned.
With the dry mild conditions we have been able to get on with field work and autumn planting. Gradually the cattle are being brought into the yards for the winter but with these exceptional weather conditions we are not rushing this process because it saves enormously on winter feed if we can keep them out as long as possible.
The ewes are in pristine condition this year and are taking to the rams well. This will all help towards a good lambing season next year. The next thing will be to bring the ewes in just after Christmas to find out how many lambs they are carrying, our aim is for two lambs per ewe.
With best wishes to you all.
31st October 2016