May 2016 on the Farm
It always astonishes me, the wild ride of high spring. The leaves on the trees change with dizzying speed. It feels like if I stood still to watch, the landscape would change in from of my eyes, all the myriad greens of new leaves heading towards the mid green of summer. The hedge banks burst into abundant life, successions of flowers decorating them, embroidering the landscape with variety and colour. The yearling deer have been weaned. A little gang are uprooting my globe artichoke plants, and just leaving them on the ground. Rabbits have got only one thing on their minds and are chasing each other in circles.
CROPS - The crops finally get going after a cold spring. It's lovely to get out there, feeding and tending the crops, green leaves harvesting the sunlight to make food for winter. Most crops do their peak growth with peak sunlight, gathering growth as the sunlight strengthens, and growing leaf to harvest even more sunlight.
GRASS - We get the cows to graze the grass before the flag leaf comes, forcing it to start its growth sequence all over again, starting with a tender pale green little centimetre each plant pushes out overnight when it is grazed (or cut, see it on the lawn). That's tasty, no fibre, (try it) and we don't let the cows nibble that, or the growth sequence has to start all over again.
COWS - Peter was giving one of the cows a manicure, trimming any overgrowth of their hooves. We like to pick up each cow's feet at least once a year. Mostly they enjoy it. We put them in a 'crush', a supportive crate. Some lean on the side, close their eyes and enjoy the attention.
We want the cows' feet in good shape for their walk out to pasture, and also because in May the spring herd go to the bull. They have rested from calving, and to catch the peak grass growth for their peak milk next year, they must get in calf now. For that, they have to be fit enough for the frolics of bulling!
DAIRY - Now is peak milk in the cheese dairy, the milk coming through a beautiful creamy yellow from the grass- fed richness. The curd feels balanced, enough moisture for maturing not too fast, enough protein to make a firm structure, enough fat to make a fine flavour, enough acidity to mature just right. We grade the cheese from this time last year, and find consistently rich and complex flavours, beautifully balanced. Richard our grader, assists in identifying the flavour families of the individual vats and also telling us what the optimum maturity for each cheese will be: 12 months, 15 months for our mainstream mature, 18-21 months for extra mature and 24 months for vintage. We are so proud of being able to age our cheese the longest of any naturally rinded mature cheese. We love it getting the compliments: cheddar like it used to taste.
OPEN FARM SUNDAY: June 5th once again we are opening our farm and dairy to visitors! This annual event is a fantastic opportunity to educate people about food and farming, and why it's so important. We will have an array of activities going on throughout the day, come meet our lovely animals and see what we do! 11am - 4pm,