Sunday 31 March 2024

Easter Eggs & Venison

Easter Sunday and it's a bright, sunny, though chilly morning. So lovely that it is NOT RAINING!!! The Farmer spent yesterday working out the trail for our annual Easter Egg Hunt around the farm for the grandchildren and some of their friends and this morning he now has to go round again placing chocolate eggs in the various nests of straw he has dotted around the fields and hedges. They are in all sorts of odd places, down rabbit holes, up in trees (with a ladder firmly tied in place) or on a large stone in the middle of a stream. It is all great fun and the children love it and it is also a good long walk for them (& the grown-ups!) before coming in for hearty tea...,for the grown-ups as the smalls so are full of chocolate by that stage that proper food is not required! For Easter lunch we are having roast venison. We have a herd of wild red deer roaming the valley and were spotted in our fields recently, so the menfolk had bit of sport and brought back some excellent wild, free meat. Whilst the deer are very beautiful to see, their numbers need controlling as they eat any trees that are planted and a lot of grass that is needed for our cattle. A herd of twenty or so deer can do a lot of damage and by next year the numbers will have increased. They also are known to carry TB which of much greater concern to us than any other aspect of their close proximity. As dairy farmers bovineTB is our greatest worry and if the deer and the cows come into contact it is a great risk to our business. The biggest irony though, is that when we need to move any cattle we have to have them TB tested by a vet (which we have to pay for), but a herd of deer can roam freely from farm to farm as they please, in our case they will have crossed at least three seperate farms before they reach our land and later they were seen entering the woods on a farm far distant across the valley.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Sul Blodau, Flower Sunday

Yesterday we called on some friends down in the village and were fascinated to hear that they had just returned from a journey around the local area visiting their family graves in various churchyards and chapel burying-grounds, putting flowers on the the memorials of their family members.This would account for us having observed over the past couple of days people visiting the graveyards of our local churches and chapels...not something one sees very often. It is an old custom that, as Easter approaches,flowers are taken to graves and today, Palm Sunday, is known in Welsh as Sul Blodau or Flower Sunday. Even if the family are not regular church- or chapel-goers this tradition continues to be important in the community. Of course this is a lovely time of year as the hedgerow flowers are begining to appear in abundance no matter how cold or wet the weather. We have primroses at the foot of the hedge banks and I have seen a very early violet flowering along the drive. Our daffodils and narcissi have been out for a good while but as we have many different varieties around the farm and in the gardens we have a display that carries on for many weeks. I also have several camellias which have put on a wonderful display this year and the magnolias are showing great promise and the cherry blossom is coming on well. The blackthorn blossom is beginning to appear in the hedges and that combined with the ever joyful birdsong is a sure sign that spring has come. After all, it was the Spring Equinox last Wednesday and the natural world just can't help but burgeon forth in all its glory and we look forward with great anticipation to the full majesty of the apple blossom, bluebells, foxgloves, the more discreet and hidden gems of the violets, wild strawberries, stitchworts and the sunshine-y magnificence ot the buttercups,dandelions and celandines.

Saturday 23 March 2024


There really isn't anything sweeter than a small lamb cuddled up against its great woolly mum! With an improvement in the weather i.e no rain for a couple of days, and it has got much colder the Farmer has been able to put the lambs out and they are happily running around in a field with their ever watchful mothers. Rain is the problem for lambs but they cope with cold without too much problem...a big thickly-fleeced mother certainly helps. This morning it is very much colder than it has been recently and although when I was out walking my little dog at about 7 o'clock it was clear and dry with glimmers of blue skies, now it grey and very gloomy and we have had hail & sleet showers. Who knows what the rest of the day will bring?! In Wales we have a new First Minister leading our Labour government as of this week, though whether this will signify a change in government policy especially regarding the agriculural sector we wait to see. With a cabinet reshuffle we now also have a new Minister for Rural Affairs and we are all waiting to see how he will deal the farmers objections to the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme that has caused us to protest so vocally in the past few weeks. Easter is coming up and so I am expecting several guests to the holiday cottage over the next couple of weeks. Booking are slow, but this seems to be general trend and people book holidays much more last minute. So long as I get 24 hours notice of an arrival it works well though keeping up with the laundry can be bit of a challenge. On the farm work picks up apace with the improvement in the weather and the land beginning to dry out. The cows are still in but we would not expect to put them out to grass until about 10th April, but muck spreading should be starting soon as soon as we can get tractors onto the fields without making too much mess. We had the vet come in this week to check the cows to see how many are in calf and it seems that only one is not, which is a very good result. Calving will not start until the end of the summer. While lambing is pretty easy nowadays as we have only 20 ewes, calving time is always busy with just under a hundred cows all due in the space of a few weeks, but that is a good while off yet.

Friday 15 March 2024

First Lambs

Spring is definitely here as our first lambs arrived last evening. A fine pair of twins and doing well. We are in a seemingly endless gloom of grey skies and rain so lambs and the wonderful dispaly of daffodils around the place are immensely cheering. Because of the very wet winter there has been almost no chance of getting onto the land though a couple of dry-ish days last week meant we were able to get muck out and lower the levels in the slurry pit. Once the sun comes back the benefits of this will quickly be seen in the grass growth and hopefully by the middle of next month we should be able to put the cows out after their long confinement in winter quarters... always a great day. After the political activity a couple of weeks ago things have gone quiet here in Wales after the great protest meeting in Cardiff. There maybe things going on the background with our farming leaders and the seemingly immovable politicians but if they are we are not aware of them. There is to be a new First Minister for Wales in the next few days but I don't think anyone is holding their breath in the hope that he will be any more sympathetic to the farmers than the previous one. As for the farmers themselves holding more meetings and protests, this is the worst time of year to rally troops as everyone is busy lambing and calving, working long, long hours with no time to spare for going out to political meetings. We still have to care for our livestock in order to feed the nation despite the politicians trying to shut us down. We have not gone away. No Farmers No Food. Bookings for the holiday cottage are beginning to trickle in. In fact I have a very last minute booking of people arriving tonight, at barely 24 hours notice. Fortunately I always keep the cottage ready with the beds made up straightaway after the last guests have left, so today I've just got to bake some chocolate brownies as a welcome gift, put a vase of daffodils picked from the garden on the table and flick a duster around the horizontal surfaces and lay the fire in the wood-burner to be lit an hour so before our guests are due to arrive. It gives a lovely sense of welcome to arrive after a long car journey, and walk into a room with a glowing fire. The Farmer will do his usual great job of refreshing the water in the hot tub and lighting the fire in it tonight as the new arrivals have asked that it be ready for use when they get here which won't be until about 11.30pm!