March 2017 Farm Round Up

Golden Catkins heralding the arrival of Spring

What a month of changes and activity – we’ve had heavy frosts which means breaking the ice on the water troughs in the mornings and we’ve had hot sunny days which have brought my freckles out in force! And delighted to report that the rain has mostly stayed away and we’ve had one of the driest Springs – maybe a very negative thing, all global warming impact etc, but a big bonus to those of us who spend their mornings and evenings walking round in wellies!
The days are noticeably longer, the sun definitely warmer and the grass is growing strongly. The hedgerows which were cut this winter have started to sprout – the dazzling lime green of early growth is almost unnaturally bright. The yellow catkins shimmer in the sunlight – summer is on its way.
We’ve had a shuffle round with the pigs – those who have completely trashed their paddocks over the winter are rewarded with a move to fresh pasture – lush grass and young nettles … yummy if you are a pig! Our Large Black sow, Fatty (yes, really) moved for a different reason – she had been away in November/December for a romantic liaison – her move to one of the maternity arks was followed by the arrival of her piglets. Sadly, not as big a litter as we would have liked, but she’s doing a good job of raising the precious few – each year I marvel at how tiny, yet how feisty piglets are! Picture of her with one of her little acorns here.
On the really sunny days, the pigs are making their own wallows to cool down – by turning over their water troughs so my workout programme has hit a new level with the number of buckets of water I seem to be moving each day! But, they are all still in their winter coats, so not surprising that they are feeling the heat I guess.
Our holiday cottage, the Chalk Barn, has been getting some great reviews – when people arrive, they are genuinely pleased with what they find which is lovely and when they leave, the reviews they leave on TripAdvisor or AirBnB are equally positive. Here’s one of the latest reviews.
A big night out for us mid-month – we had been nominated in the Wiltshire Life Awards in the Independent Food Producer category – the top 3 nominees are invited to the dinner so when we got our invite, we knew we were at least in Bronze medal position! On the night, we were runners up – very proud! And got a few decent photos of us … together and not wearing wellies … both very rare events!!
The Guinea Fowl finally started laying – it is entirely weather dependent but just before the end of the month, we spotted the first nest … in some nettles under a hedge. They don’t make life easy for us, but the eggs are yummy so worth hunting down. Every year, we are inundated with requests to ship hatching eggs around the UK – we even have some of our offspring up in the Orkney Islands. Everyone loves the excitement of incubating eggs – including us, as we have to top up our flock to cover the inevitably losses to the fox each winter 🙁 That’s the downside of a completely free range flock.