Happy new year to you all, and best wishes for 2022.
Things have been rather manic since I last wrote. There was Storm Arwen, which left its course of damage: Four large trees in the park were brought down along with several branches. There was also some structural damage to roofs.
Christmas brought its usual amount of chaos and hard work, but thanks to a very good team here, all went smoothly.
Everything is getting back to normal, but it's never that simple. We are all feeling the effect of the increase in oil prices. In farming this has caused the more than doubling of fertiliser prices, which I'm afraid will force up the prices of many food items.
On the other hand, I'm pleased to report that we scanned the sheep yesterday and Spring should see lambs aplenty. The results were: 32 sets of triplets; 124 twins; and 45 with single lambs. Hopefully, the weather will be kind to us and the grass will grow.
Covid is still rearing its ugly head and we appear to be learning to live with it. Let's hope that we can stay safe, as it's not really possible to run a shop and a café working from home.
That's all for now.
Summer has suddenly appeared and everything is growing like mad. As usual, things are busy on the farm. The sheep have been shorn, two fields of grass have been mown for silage and a hectare of sunflowers with radish and sorghum have been sown for the wild birds.
The cold weather that we had in May meant that many of the blossoms and flowers lasted for a long time. I think most notable was the oilseed rape, where fields were bright yellow for many weeks. Hopefully this will result in high yields.
May 17 saw an easing of lockdown, so eating indoors was possible. As a result, the cafe was reopened and it's great to have the staff back.
There are one or two new faces, too. Hospitality and shop work is, for many people young and not-so-young a stopping off place between jobs or colleges, so staff turnover can be quite high.
That said, Gemma, who has been with us for several months, is moving on into a full time job and we wish her good luck.
The sun is shining and the BBQs are lit, which means the butchers are very busy making kebabs, burgers and sausages. The first weekend is always a bit hectic, but butchers Mike and Steve soon got into their stride and provided their usual tip-top service.
On a personal note, I have to report that on May 4 Pete and Beth welcomed daughter Evelyn at some ungodly hour of the morning. Mother and baby are doing well and, needless to say, Grandma and I are delighted with the addition to the family.
I appreciate the NHS and volunteers continue to do really well, so hopefully most will have had their two vaccines soon and life can return to normal.
David Clarke has been farming at Churncote for many years. He and wife Sue started selling the produce from the farm in 2003, which gives him long-standing insight into the reality of the farm to fork process. David will be sharing his experience regularly here.