I regularly find myself saying ‘Every day is a school day!’ Education seems to be a common theme to us at present, (especially being married to a busy teacher, and with elections loaming etc.) with farm walks, Open Farm Sunday etc., coming up. Next couple of weeks we are hosting a group of Agricultural Degree students from South Devon College with a view to them using us and our significant bank of data for their studies and project work. We also have a food journalist and blogger ‘the running buffet’ visiting to learn more. We regularly answer queries from ours and Riverford’s customers, some of which can be quite challenging. We welcome all of these interactions as opportunities to share our approach to farming and spread the organic message, often dispelling myths. Our belief is that we can’t sit on our arse and moan if we are not prepared to get involved.
As relatively new entrants to farming we are always learning ourselves and one of the common themes of organic farming is that every year throws up new and different challenges, just when we think we have got one thing sussed another challenge comes along. Last year our apple harvest was disappointing so we are working hard this year to see if we can improve. We are really pleased with the quality and condition of our hens this year and production is good, but the current challenge on the farm seems to be vermin control, with another short and mild winter allowing vermin, namely rats, rabbits, flies, foxes etc., to thrive and breed.
My favourite form of ‘education’ has to be children, mainly my own and their friends. Children’s lives and spare time are so full nowadays with the added distraction of ‘screens’ that it often seems an effort to get the kids involved in the farm and outdoors. However more recently there has been a new attraction, calving and in particular Connie the orphan calf, who must be the best fed, looked after and groomed calf around. We will see whose interest fades first!
Calving this year is proving to be a classic and costly example of new challenges. This years calves are being given names beginning with C and the latest one, requiring two vets called out for a caesarean at four in the morning probably ought to be called ‘Costa’, not looking forward to the bill, but the outcome was good and was definitely an education!