Saturday, 15 August 2015
Holiday Cottage Guests, Organic Farming
I've just waved off another pair of happy holiday-makers who have been here in the cottage for a week. It is always lovely when people leave saying how relaxed and peaceful their stay has been and knowing that they have enjoyed what we have to offer. That sounds awfully smug...it is not meant to, but we do appreciate our guests appreciating us!
One of the selling points of the cottage is that it is on an organic farm. We think that is very important and it seems to matter to a number of our holiday-makers. Many book to stay here because it is an organic farm, and also because it is something of a picture-book farm...very traditional. They like the idea that our milk goes into Yeo Valley yoghourt (through OMSCo the organic milk co-operative) and that we produce milk and meat without the use of chemicals and anti-biotics. These basic tenets of organic farming seem to be what the public latches onto and the fact that our animals are out in fields eating grass as they should be. Visitors enjoy seeing the cows come in for milking and ask a lot of questions about dairy farming and organic farming. There is still a lot ignorance about what organic really means and we do our best to explain how and why we farm as we do. Awareness of organic food seems to have waned in the last couple of years and the organic movement has struggled with the perception of it being a niche market for the well-off middle classes. We, as milk producers, cannot market our product as individuals (though there are some very successful entrepreneurial dairy farmers out there e.g Daioni) so are reliant on organisations such as the Soil Association, Organic Farmers & Growers and OMSCo to promote the organic dairy industry on our behalf. Giving people access to organic farms is very important which is why we encourage our guests to see what we do here and host school visits and have open days. It is only when the public see for themselves how organic farming works and why it is beneficial to the land, the livestock and people that sales of organic food will increase.
Despite the weather being somewhat changeable this August there are still plenty of lovely days with dramatic cloud-strewn skies and light breezes waving through the trees. We have had large gatherings of seagulls in our newly mown silage fields. The glimmering of the sun glints on the silver wings of the adult birds as they wheel around the sky and the flecked tawny colouring of the the young birds contrasts with purity of the white and grey plumage of the adults. The young birds are very raucous though not as noisy as the young buzzards we have resident on the farm. They have been particularly vocal recently as they soar above the yard circling on the thermals. Their voices mingle with the persistent cheerful chatter of the swallows as they perform their amazing acrobatics.