I hope you are all managing to cope with our new way of living. Let's hope with all the measures in place we will beat this ghastly virus before too long. When it's all over perhaps we will have the wisdom to have recognise the things that really matter to us on a personal, national and world level.
The Farm Shop
The farm shop has been extremely busy, firstly in the shop and with extra online business. Latterly, to protect the staff, the shop has closed for public access but has offered a click and collect service - you simply phone in or email your order and collect at an arranged time; we are also offering a delivery service to customers in a 10 mile radius of the farm. This has been very welcome, particularly to those who cannot or should not get out, and to whom the supermarket deliveries are not reaching.
We use the majority of our own produce, meat and milk and, where at all possible, local suppliers of dry goods, veg, cider, beer, preserves, honey, and cakes, supplemented by citrus fruit, wine and more! To use these services please be patient (the phone is ever busy) or use email to place orders, leaving details of order, name, telephone number and, if asking for home delivery, address with postcode and any instructions to help us find you!
Bath Farmers Market
We are currently continuing to take our produce to Bath Farmers Market. Laura, the manager, has organised a system whereby customers are only allowed into the market in small numbers and one customer at a stall at any one time. This is working well for those who are able to operate. We have Lucy, Emma and Vicky who are covering this whilst Paul and I are working from home - thank you ladies!
Our staff are working extremely hard to complete orders, we are very proud of their attitude and dedication to the service we are offering. A BIG THANK YOU to them all, they are part of the food industry which is keeping the nation fed. This applies to our supplies, couriers and everyone else who helps keep us going.
Our farm staff, contractors and supplies are doing a great job in difficult times, when many supporting businesses are not working.
The farm is as busy as ever, lots of field work to be done. Rolling this year was able to take place as the grass was slow to get going with the cold drying winds. The fences have taken another hammering last year, as cattle sheltered from the weather under hedges on very soft ground, testing the fences. The fencing posts over the last few years have not lasted well, rotted at ground level and become very dry and brittle after the withdrawal of some of the treatments to prolong their life. It is an expensive job, both on actual cost and time, something that you don’t want to go back to too often.
Paul and I have been fencing, cutting down overhanging boughs to prevent the forage harvester being caught up, and removing fallen boughs, which usually manage to destroy the fence on their way down! These are mostly willow, fast growing with a tendency to be wayward!
The cattle are mostly out in the pastures, but regrowth will be slow until we have some warmer nights and dare I say a little soft refreshing rain! The next task will be to get more dung out onto the land and the maize planted, first cut silage isn't too far away either. The spring calving and lambing has now finished after a successful time.
The agricultural industry, like others, are being hit in many ways with the disruption of the customer base through the COVID-19 measures. The closure of cafes, restaurants and various functions have seriously affected some areas of the milk industry, leaving some dairy farmers the unenviable task of throwing away the milk they had just milked from the cows. You can’t just not milk the cows, this would lead to all sorts of health problems for them.
The irony is the supermarkets are short of milk and yet milk is being discarded. Competition law and logistics makes it difficult to resolve this, the NFU are lobbying the government to assist in this situation. Beef is another problem; there is an imbalance in the carcass, the supermarkets are selling the fore quarters but the pub and restaurants are not open to be selling steaks and other cuts.
The swallows arrived here on 2nd April, always such a joy and sign of the summer. They have started straight away to repair their nests from last year, not wasting a moment. We are putting out shallow pools of water on the ground, so important to them for mud nest building in this dry spell. The bluebells are looking wonderful, in fact all the early spring flowers are. I’m encouraging my grandchildren to learn the names of our wild flowers and birds.
Paul and I had been on our annual holiday in early March. We like to go at this time of year, it has the least effect on the two businesses and the families. Making staff and family holiday time fit together is always a challenge.
Anyway, for some time we have wanted to see the flamingos in their natural habitat. They visit the Andalucia region in Spain between late February to June, feeding on the salt lakes. We booked a house in one of the little white towns, Arcos De La Fonteria, and our friends joined us. We flew into Gibraltar, hired a car and travelled the hour and half to the house. It was good weather, lovely walking country and we saw the flamingos! They were fantastic, much taller than we had thought and lots of them.
As the week went on, COVID-19 began to take effect in Spain, although we were a long way from Madrid where it was becoming very worrying, but we felt vulnerable as regulations were moving apace. We tried to get an earlier flight to no avail, indeed we were told that our Bristol flight had been cancelled! We decided to get back to Gibraltar the day before our due flight in case there was a problem with the border and try and sort things out. As it was it was fine , but the next day it was very different. Our friends were from Essex and took the flight back to Gatwick as planned, we were due to fly at 8pm. Our flight was cancelled, but we flew the next evening, and very pleased to see cold rainy Bristol!
We then did our ‘self isolation’; in fact we still are owing to Paul’s health. We are working from home, I’m doing office work for both the farm and farm shop. We have also been busy doing repairs for the farm and shop, generally catching up with those jobs you often don’t get round to.
Be safe, heed the advice and we will come through.
From Ruth Kimber, owner and farmer since 1973