Monday, 23 September 2013

Autumn 2013

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. And what a Summer it has been, with the most fantastic weather! It's been the hottest, driest and sunniest since 2006 and it really showed. We had the best pick your own season in many years, between you, you picked 10 tonnes of strawberries!

There are still lots of things to do on the farm - we have lots of autumn fruit to harvest - sweetcorn is at its best right now and we are out harvesting this on a daily basis. 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 soft fruit. 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 the spring 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.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Summer at Alder Carr

It's Summer time!

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 is having a great start this year compared to last's years rather wet weather. The fruit was rather late to arrive due to the cold spring, but now the sun has come out we have lots of fruit available. We have also got our tunnels up to weather proof the strawberries this year, after we had so much rain damage last year, so picking can go on whatever the weather.  Strawberries require a lot of work whilst they are fruiting, making sure they are well watered and fed is crucial to getting big berries. As well as strawberries we have also now started picking raspberries, tayberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. Main crop strawberries are about to end but we will have other varieties available (although in less quantities) well into the summer.

Strawberry picking is great fun for all the family!

On the rest of the farm you may have noticed our lambs are getting very big! They are nearly ready to be weaned from their mums so they can begin getting back into shape for tupping time (a visit from the rams!) in the autumn. Our hay is all safely inside, which is always a relief to know we have a supply of grass for the animals into the winter. We are also now looking for some new Red Poll cows for breeding so we can have a supply of the Suffolk breed of beef in the farm shop.

Red Poll cow and calf

Friday, 26 April 2013

Spring on the Farm 

We are so influenced by weather as farmers that we really look forward to Spring and the milder weather that is brings. Having said that 2013 has been a pretty strange year so far with a Winter that seemed to go on forever, I can't remember the last time we had snow on Easter Sunday! But thankfully Winter has finally broken and we can finally get going on the farm. There's nothing better than waking up to brilliant sunshine and it somehow makes the increased amount of work not seem so bad.

From the quiet season of winter, even slower paced than some years as our crops of sprouting broccoli were cut short due to the snow, to the busy season of spring - there is a lot going on now. Lambing began on Easter Sunday and we have now had 77 lambs born from 40 ewes so far, just 8 to go!

We are also busy fertilising, mucking and drilling. We have already planted up our potatoes and carrots. There is also lots to do getting the fruit ready for the summer. We have put up two new poly-tunnels to house all our strawberries, this should extend the season and protect the crop from the weather - we lost a lot of strawberries to rain damage last year.  So we are hoping to have plenty of strawberries to pick your own this year.

The asparagus season is a little behind this year, but we have finally seen it begin to break through the soil, so we look forward to harvesting a crop in about a weeks time! Its already been ridged up to make it grow nice and tall so its all ready to go.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Winter on the farm

Winter on the farm is typically the quietest time of year and traditionally it is used as a time to take stock of the year and to undertake many of the maintenance jobs which have been building up over the summer. With all the livestock on the farm we have a lot of fences which need attention so and the tractors need some TLC too.

We are fattening up the last of 2012's lambs, having brought them inside to keep them warm while all this snow is around. Lambing will begin a bit later this year - not till the end of March - so preparations are a little way off. We still need to keep an eye on the ewes and make sure they are eating enough in this cold weather so the lambs are nice and healthy. 

Winter veg is still in full flow and we are harvesting this as we need it - sprouting broccoli, kale, potatoes, cabbages and carrots are still available when we can get out into the fields to harvest it!