June on the Farm
Midsummer magic gives wild growth at its fullest extent. Blink and plants everywhere reach for the sun at its highest in the sky. Leaves that started spring as every conceivable green all become mid green, as everyone concentrates on the serious business on converting sun's energy to food. Hatched chicks fledge. A goose nesting up the valley honks mournfully, I haven't yet worked out where she is.
The farm shares in the plenty of midsummer. The flowering barley makes the wind visible as the heavy heads and spiky awns sway, heart-stoppingly beautiful when I give myself the time to notice it. We hope for some dry weather during each crops' flowering to get the best set for the wind-borne pollen.
CROPS - The crops we sow for winter feed, maize, fodder beet and kale look exquisite as they come up in green rows on our red soil snaking to the end of the field. Even rows and even spacing means the most yield, orderliness giving a visceral satisfaction that we can provide for our animals over winter.
Grass grows in front of the cattle, faster than they can eat it. The pastures the cows keep eating stay rich and leafy, perfect food to grow meat and milk just as it is.
HEIFERS - The heifers are growing up well and it's good to reassure ourselves that their soggy outdoor winter did them no harm. It is a triumph of the fencing work we've been doing over the last year. We can get them to graze properly, so the fresh growth is the cleanest and most nutritious (no old leaves left behind). In the past, we would have to move them. Most of the Spring cows should also be pregnant by the end of the month and we look forward to receiving the next generation.
CHEESE - The milk settles into a lovely milk for cheese making, Malcolm Mitchell's favourite. His depth of knowledge and skill, garnered over the years, is the killer app of our cheese quality. 'Just do it as it's meant to be done' he says. And he knows what to do, and when. He's trained and shaped the whole cheese dairy team, and leads from the front in the heavy work of making our 27 kg / 60lb wheels.
In the store, the quiet work of maturing continues, powered now by our photovoltaic panels sited on the cheese store roof. Just the sweet spot, as we use the most power in cooling the stores at the time of year when the sun's rays are at their most powerful.
AWARDS - Delighted to announce at the British Cheese Awards 2014 we picked up gold, silver and bronze for our cheeses. I’m extremely proud of all the team.