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Helen's Notes From The Farm - Week 7

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Slow Food & Fast Bikes

I have found it too hard to write this blog for the last couple of weeks. One of our farm staff is in a critical condition in hospital, and nothing else matters that much. Our despondency over Tb and the consequent reversal of new dairy plans are so minor by comparison. I still can’t write anything more about this now.

Tragedy strikes, yet we all need to keep doing the day job. Animals need to be fed, customers welcomed, crops planted.  And we have to laugh too, even though we wonder how we can. Most of you will know about this. So, we have had the official opening of the Royal Oak rooms, with much acclaim and a brilliant review in the Telegraph last weekend. To our amazement, we are already getting quite full.

Tim and I visited the School of Gastronomy in Turin, the home of Slow Food, for a career day speaking to the students. This was a kind of busman’s holiday, celebrating his (big) birthday with a speed dating session with 14 potential interns!

My present to him was an e- mountainbike for us both, so that we can spend the odd free afternoon exploring the hills that are too remote to get to by foot. Some of the laughs come from seeing us pedalling off in fluorescent helmets like a couple of deranged teenagers!

 

It’s so dry on the farm. Young calves have found the transition from deep straw beds to concrete like fields quite hard on their feet, and the spring crops are gasping for a drink. Grass growth has slowed right down, especially as it’s still so cold at night too. One thing I find fascinating is looking at the differences between our newer and older pastures, and the grass growth under these stress conditions on the various soil types. The red clover leys, which are only productive for a couple of years but have very deep tap roots, seem to be flourishing still, and will yield well for silage, but whenever we put stock onto them, they never seem content. While on our rather rough looking valley pasture, and the old leys on top of the downs, the stock are always happy, even though there seems to be little to eat at times. As with us perhaps, it’s quality over quantity.

I’m off to Scotland this weekend, on an RSPB Council trip to Strathspey and thereabouts. And a chance to visit our Chair, Dennis, on his home patch near Inverness. So I should have some stunning photos and adventures to share next week. 

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