News from the Farm Gate by Milly Fyfe

Pigs

We have passed the Spring equinox and can start to enjoy light mornings and longer light in the evening. I am sure that it is a delight for most as you always seem to get more done during the daylight hours don’t you? 

At Orchard Farm, we have just brought the sheep in for lambing. It is one of the busiest times of year on the farm and I always say it is my favourite time with new life arriving into the world on a daily basis. This year we have 200 ewes to lamb and so I do hope things run smoothly. My husband Andrew often resembles a zombie by the end of the lambing season as it is quite demanding and sheep do like to start lambing in the middle of the night. 

Some Gloucester Old Spot pigs arrived on the farm recently, which have provided us all with lots of amusement. They are such fun animals and have an inquisitive nature. They enjoy having their backs scratched but also like to have a nibble at my wellingtons so I have to perform a little dance to stop them from taking off more than they can chew. 

The pigs will stay on the farm for a couple of months and form part of my project adding value to rare breed pig meat. Eventually I would like to have a classroom on the farm and promote field to fork education, promoting how food reaches our plates and how to prepare delicious meals. At the moment I have a lot to juggle and so I am focussing on producing pigs for the freezer, which locally is proving quite popular. I have also set up a new website www.orchardfarmproduce.com which highlights what is on offer and will help to promote to a wider audience. 

In the farm garden I have started making use of the pig manure by forking in and working the ground ready for the 2016 growing season. Before long I would like to get my potato and onion sets in, before planting some seeds including leeks, tomatoes, cabbage and kale. I am also trying my hand at some unusual crops including Pak Choi, rainbow Swiss chard and Yam so I will keep you posted with how I get on. 

In other exciting news I will be moving on from the R.A.B.I. in June. I will still be working in Agriculture, for a charitable organisation called the Beef and Dairy Shorthorn society as the new Chief executive. The opportunity marries up my love for food marketing, livestock farming, working with people and helping to make a difference in the charity sector. I will be sad to leave the R.A.B.I. after 8 years in post but will still be a lifelong supporter of the charity due to my close connection to the cause. The Shorthorn cow is a versatile, multi-functioning breed where you can either have a dairy shorthorn cow or a beef shorthorn cow. Shorthorn beef has enjoyed success recently. It is a native breed which produces a product with good eating quality due to the marbling in the meat. Thanks to a scheme with Morrison’s supermarket, producers have enjoyed a premium for producing a quality animal that has helped to raise awareness of the breed too. Hopefully the breed will become a household name similar to the Aberdeen Angus in the future so watch this space. It may be available in a supermarket, farm shop or butchers in a place near you. 

We haven’t got Shorthorns on the farm just yet but I can see us having some in the future. They are very well natured cows with good maternal instincts. In the meantime I will be helping to support the Summer shows where pedigree and commercial producers come to display and show the very best in the breed for the chance of a rosette or trophy. It’s also a great opportunity to socialise and talk to likeminded people too. 

If you visit an agricultural show this spring or summer, make a point of looking in the livestock section at the variety of breeds and the efforts made by those exhibiting. It truly is a wonderful showcase which forms part of the fabric of our beautiful countryside. 

To get in touch with Milly Fyfe, Tel: 07752 989544, e-mail hello@millyfyfe.com or follow on twitter @millywastie @orchard_produce

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