On our farm we grow a huge range of fruit and vegetables and raise Red Poll cows (Suffolk's traditional breed), Suffolk sheep and a flock of 200 hens. These are all sold in the farm shop along with a massive range of other local produce. Our animals can all be seen grazing the meadows during the summer. Our fruit and veg is amazingly fresh as it comes straight from the farm to the shop. If you want it even fresher you can pick your own in the summer!
What are we doing down on the farm?
Autumn on the farm With Summer now over everything is starting to take on a real autumnal feel. Everything takes on a much slower pace, which is a relief after a very hectic summer. There are still lots of things to do on the farm - we have lots of autumn and winter fruit and veg to harvest - sweetcorn is at its best right now and we are out harvesting this on a daily basis. We also have our own runner beans and purple sprouting broccoli has now started. It is also time to start lifting our main crop potatoes, saxon and desiree, these will then be graded on the potato riddler and bagged up into 25kg and 12kg sacks for the farm shop.
Until the first frosts we will still have a small range of sorf fruit for pick your own, including strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Apart from harvesting we also have lots of things to do to get ready for the winter, cutting out and tying up all the cane fruit (raspberries, tayberries, blackberries etc) is very important to reduce the risk of disease and make sure only the healthiest and strongest canes are left for a good crop next year. Tying up protects the canes from damage by the wind over winter.
Although the busiest time of year for the livestock is during lambing, in the Spring, we now have to make sure everything is ready for the winter. The tups (rams) go in with the ewes in October so we can lamb in February and after that they are all housed for the winter in our sheds. Some of the finishing cattle will also be housed over the winter, this protects the fields and allows them to recover in time for Spring turn out and it also makes feeding them and checking them during the bad Winter weather a much easier job.
June Summer officially starts in June and it is also the start of the strawberry season and therefore pick your own is now in full swing! Summer hasn't had as great a start as last year. With the sunshining much earlier we had strawberries at the end of May (the earliest ever) but they are just as big and juicey this year and there should be plenty for our Strawberry Fayre on 30th June. Strawberries require a lot of work whilst they are fruiting, making sure they are well watered and fed is crucial to getting big berries.
June is also the end of the asparagus season. We offically stop harvesting asparagus on the summer solstice, 21st June, to allow the plants to build up some strength for next years crop. The plants will grow into large ferns which will then flower and eventually producing red berries.
April Lambing is now well and truly over, we had a total of 93 lambs born this year giving us an average of 1.6 lambs per ewe! The lambs are all now out in the fields and can be seen bouncing around on the farm. Most of the lambs are off site for the summer - some at Needham lake, some up in the village and some by Combs church. Lambing takes up most of our time and energy for 6 weeks so now that we have caught up with our sleep we can concentrate on other farming activities. Our asparagus has strarted poking its head above the soil so we'll be gearing up for harvesting soon. Some new strawberry plants have just arrived so we will also be putting them in. We have to replace a proportion of the strawberry plants every year to make sure we have a large enough supply for the farm shop and pick your own in the summer.
March March is finally here, and that means Spring is on its way and so is lambing! Such an exciting time on the farm, I just can't wait for the lambs to start putting in an apperance, and this year I didn't have to wait too long as the first twins arrived a few days early on 28th February. Have a look at the video below to see how they are getting on, they are just a few hours old in this video and already starting to bounce around, which is such a lovely sight to see. They will only be kept indoors for a few weeks so we can keep a close eye on them, and then they will be out in the fields. This is when they become really active and they really do jump for joy. We are hoping to get some lambs out where you can see them bouncing around for yourself. We are very relieved that the 3 ewes that have lambed so far are free from the Schmallenberg virus, only another 58 ewes to go before we can breathe a sigh of relief!
January & February
After a busy couple of months getting everything ready for Christmas, January and February give us a chance to wind down and catch up with jobs on the farm. With only a few weeks till lambing its time to bring the ewes in to start feeding them plenty of food so the lambs are of a good size. It also makes it easier to check the ewes during lambing, night and day, and avoid any complications. On the rest of the farm, although it is a lean time for fruit and vegetables, we are still out several times a week harvesting winter vegetables such as parsnips, cabbages, carrots, kale, spinach and sprouts.