Monday, 6 July 2015

Spring/Summer 2015

This year so far has been uber productive on the farm I am very pleased to say! The weather has had a huge part to play in this fact as it has been so very dry. The start of a year is usually cold and wet which limits me going onto the fields due to making a mess but this year was quite different from mid February onwards. This dry weather has enabled me to get on with jobs such as apple tree pruning, ditching, sorting out drains, fertiliser spreading and improving gateways.  I have also got to say a big thank you to 'Dave' who has been an enormous help with his digger. The more I achieved the more I have wanted to do!

Apple Tree Pruning

Pruning apple trees on the farm
Managed to tidy up and prune both of our small orchards and I really enjoyed it! Pruning is quite a mellow job (if you are not on a ladder) and where to cut on a branch as well as the shaping of a tree is really quite fun! It is a little bit like being an artist and you step back every so often to see how it is all going. Lots of blossom in late May so I must have done something right!

Ditching and gateway improvement

This was a good job done. Several gateways are 'pinchpoints' and 1 gateway can serve more than one field. With the cattle and tractors going though these gateways they had become impassable on foot in the wet weather so at long last we have addressed this (to a certain point). Do one gateway and drain it then moves the water on to another area... so a bit of ditching is then required and then you come across another gateway and you have now moved it the water situation onwards - you need to drain area! We have at least made a start and hopefully we can continue what we have started a little later on in the year.

Drainage project on the farm

We have had three parties in the barn on the farm in May and June and they were a great success. Lovely people whose party it was each time and also the guests which all help the atmosphere and fun. At last I have now constructed a proper bar area which worked very well for these events. When I first made the bar area I thought it it was way too big but by the time it is stocked up with drinks, glasses, fridge, bins etc and you have 2 people behind it frantically keeping thirsty guests refreshed it is actually just the right size! One party decorated the barn as if it was the inside of a marquee (see below) and it was very effective indeed and I still have all  this material so this could be an option for parties in the future! I have also got some more lighting and even a laser for the barn which all helps the atmosphere. We have also purchased a new 4 metre Bell tent for the campsite.

Quote from a couple who had their wedding reception on the farm a few weeks ago...

'We had a day exactly as we dreamed - We loved every minute!'

The marquee effect!

New Bell Tent for hire

New Bar Area

Not quite the same theme as partying but it does happen in the same place albeit involving less booze!I am also hosting several photography courses in the barn over the year. These events are for  photographic clubs in learning how to photograph Birds Of Prey and we have a professional falconer providing the birds and a professional photographer for the instruction. Please note we are only hosting these events and any enquiries need to be directed to

Food and drink shows.
We have now started the Show season and The Shrewsbury Food and Drink Festival was unbelievable! Great weather, lots of people and excellent show organisation all added up to a spectacular event and we were very pleased with the weekend. We ran out of stock on the Saturday which was somewhat  unexpected as we thought we had brought enough stock for the 2 days!! As I have mentioned previously we are doing less shows this year so the ones we do we hope work well for us. Oswestry Food and drink show is the next one on the calender.

Shrewsbury Food and Drink Festival

Land Rover restoration

Some of you are aware that I got very excited in fixing up our old Series 2 Land Rover this year.... with the help of my mate Sion we were hoping to get it up and running in Springtime for a classic car event in Ludlow. Despite the very positive progress we have made over the months on it unfortunately the limiting factor has been time or more to the point - lack of time...(see above) Unfortunately it is STILL not done despite it being so very very close indeed to be finished... It is a shame as these balmy summer days we have been having it would have enormous fun. I am seriously thinking of towing it up to the local garage and getting them to finish it.... Something has to be done!! When it is finally done the world will know.... until it breaks down.

AND we managed to go away for a week family on the Isles of Scilly! Wow! What a great place.. Had a great break and it was like being on a Greek island! White sand, Blue sea lots of little islands, gorgeous sunsets and the local supermarket was a crazy place! Blazing hot weather which resulted in minor sunburn - but it didn't matter as I was on holiday!!

Enjoying an pint on the Isles of Scilly!

Oh yes almost forgot... we are also half way through having an extension built onto the house.... Yes things have certainly been keeping Chris busy!


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Start of 2015

The amount of times I promise myself to keep on top of the blogging and I never seem to achieve it but here goes for the start of 2015..

The end of 2014 we ran out of bottled cider which was embarrassing to say the least and I want to really forget about the whole scenario. The only slight positive is that we should learn from our mistakes and I am going to try and ensure it does not happen again.

January 2015 I must admit was a bit hard work if I am honest for various reasons. It was cold which I quite like to be honest as opposed to being wet all the time but it is the really short days that I find frustrating. Evenings are really long and seem to go on longer than the daylight hours. I sort of try and promise to myself to take things a bit easier in January each year as it can be quite hectic for every other month. I suppose I have sort of achieved that element but oddly enough I do find it difficult to 'not do anything' and to have a break. I have so many things  'to do'! That said looking back over last month I have managed to formulate quite a comprehensive list of plans but the inevitable result is that 'the list' that now it has been prepared is a massive list and is a weeny bit sobering.... Anyway if nothing else it is at least some sort of foundation to build on!

This month has been much more positive I am pleased to say! Several pallets of cider have come back from the bottling plant so we are back in business regarding cider sales! Everyone has been so understanding about the situation which has been a great help. The days are getting longer too and a bit milder as I have said I like the cold it can slow up plans. I have been managed to get my teeth into one or two projects on the farm which I am pleased about. One particular shed on the farm has been in my sights for sorting and I have made fairly good progress in sorting out what is what. Lots of recycling into certain piles is going on and unfortunately there is the classic pile of stuff that I am not sure what to do with...
The farm shop and kitchen etc has had a lick of floor paint and it looks a lot better. I tried to do it when it was unlikely that we would have many visitors considering the time of year etc and of course inevitably we had quite a few which was somewhat challenging. It was just as well I sort of staggered the painting and did it in sections so the shop still could be used. Still had to go over a couple of bits though for a second time..

January is also a time for planning for the shows we would like to do in the next 11 months. We of course have our favourite shows but we have left off a few shows for this year for several reasons. One reason is that there is a danger of shows eating up weekends considering the time to prepare, the travelling and of course the related costs to each show that we do. We very rarely (which is lucky) to go to a show that is very disappointing but we have been a bit stricter in the amount of profit that we would like to achieve at any event. I know this is fairly obvious but going to shows is of course marketing etc as well but taking into accounts the true cost of going to a show can be quite sobering. I am sometimes amazed that some fellow stall holders sometimes do not even cover their true costs let alone make a profit to make it all worthwhile. Another factor is having a little 2 year old boy means that weekends are starting to have different priorities too. Also one element that I do find frustrating and I have to admit is one of the main reasons why we are choosing not to go to a couple of events, is the fact that we are not allowed at some shows to sell our cider by the glass! This is like going to a show with your hands tied regarding selling your product. I find this so very short sighted regarding the organisation. It completely goes against the whole theme of so called 'local shows' and encouraging small producers to attend while only a few metres away there is a large trailer unit selling mass produced drinks! These mass produced drinks can be bought anywhere in any pub. Fair enough that people like to have a choice on what they drink but heck give the small drinks producer a chance to try and compete! Our customers are always so surprised that we are unable to sell by the glass and as a result we lose a huge amount of potential business... Why do the organisers choose to do this? It is all down to those trailer units paying huge money for a pitch.... Anyway got a bit carried away there but I do find it frustrating and as time goes on these 'local shows' which just become 'another show and will begin to lose their identity.

Another good job that has been done is taking the electric winch of a rubbish tractor and sticking it on the Land Rover which is much more usable. I have done one job already and it is a brilliant tool! A huge branch had fallen off an Ash tree and had got stuck in a hedge and on top of a fence. Without a winch it would have been a nightmare but with a decent winch the job is now done! And we have instant firewood...

 A bit of footage too!