News from the Farmgate by Milly Fyfe (Ed 130)

A lot has happened since I last wrote my column. Our lambing season has been and gone and was quite successful this year. The spring weather has been kind to us with dry and mild temperatures, meaning we have been able to turn the lambs and ewes out quickly to enjoy the grass. We have had minimal losses and only a few orphan lambs so we haven‘t had to bottle teed many this time.


The cows have also been calving. We had a heifer produce a lovely set of twins without any assistance at all. We did however have one unusual problem cow that was trying to calve which required the assistance of our local vet.


When the vet arrived, she diagnosed the cow as having a twisted uterus. This had happened when the calf inside her had moved round and taken the uterus with it. This meant that when the cow went into labour, the twisted uterus blocked the calf from exiting the womb. Until the cow went into labour there was no way of knowing that there was such a problem. And sadly because it was a long time before the cow was showing any signs of calving, we were not able to act quickly in order to save the calf.


The vet was able to un-twist the uterus by laying the cow down and rolling her over. With the weight of the calf it forced the uterus back into position. Then the cow was able to progress with having her calf, though sadly due to all the trauma, the calf was born dead.


Some more pigs have arrived at Orchard Farm. We picked up three Gloucester Old Spot weaners from a farm near Lutterworth a few weeks ago. It is safe to say that they are thriving. It’s been a while since we last had some pigs on the farm. Having been pregnant and then looking after a newborn baby has meant my priorities have been elsewhere. However, my pork orders have been backing up and our freezer is almost empty. Our little boy Angus loves sausages, so it is important that we produce more to cater for him as well as our regular customers!


I have been asked to have a stall at our village fete this month. I will sell sausages, and some eggs. It is the first time I will have had a stall at our fete so I am hopeful that our produce will be popular. Many people still don’t know where we are, or what we produce so it will be nice to talk to people and promote what is on their doorstep.


Last month I was asked to give a talk to a horticultural society. I was booked to do this well over a year ago. And so, it was a bit of a shock to them when I turned up with a baby in a sling, to give them a talk about the farm, what we produce and all the diversification projects I have launched. It was lovely to be able to talk to people about what we do and receive such positive feedback. The comments included ‘you have so much energy, can we bottle it up’ and ‘what great ideas you have’. They also probed me on topical news items such as Brexit, veganism and climate change. I think I answered all the questions, giving a balanced opinion and a voice for the farming community!


The talk gave me the confidence to reach out to other groups and ask if they would like me to come and give a presentation in the future. It you are reading this and belong to a WI, rotary or discussion group, I would be happy to come along and talk about our ideas and what we have achieved on the farm, as well as plans for the future.


Looking ahead, we are planning on attending a few of the agricultural shows this Summer. At the moment we will probably head to Blaston show, near Market Harborough on 30th June, Ashby Show in July and Blakesley Show (Northamptonshire) in August. Andrew has been very involved with Blaston Show over the last few years, helping to organise the cattle showing classes and sponsorship.


This year, Andrew has helped to create a Midlands cattle championship, where competitors gain points for showing cattle across three shows. These include Kenilworth, Blaston and Blakesley Show. We hope there will be plenty of entries and the competition proves a success.