I'm pleased to report that we have completed a successful harvest and that the sowing of our new crops is well underway.
The new crop of Oilseed Rape has been sown using a reduced cultivation which saves on fuel and CO2. We have also sown fewer seeds to create larger plants that will be healthier and require less in the way of pesticides.
The living mulch we are creating is now sown, too, and the rainfall of late has helped germination, so the plant populations are looking good.
Winter Barley has been sown on the fields where the wheat was chopped and spread. We have also applied farmyard manure to encourage the breakdown of the straw to provide nutrients.
What is known as a 'break crop' - brassicas in this case - have been sown on two fields to provide winter feed for the sheep, but this also helps prevent the leaching of nitrogen and carbon.
In the spring, these two fields will be sown with beans to provide protein for the livestock.
On the shop side, I am very pleased to welcome on board a very competent and experienced butcher.
The nights are drawing in and Christmas is looming. The continuing threat of Avian Flu may have a profound effect this year. Sadly, I have to report that our supplier of Barbary ducks has been unable to source ducklings.
So far, turkeys and geese seem safe (fingers crossed!).
And finally, the August Bank holiday saw a record crowd at the steam rally in the park. Hopefully, normality is returning.
Here's a scary thought... Christmas Day is only five weeks away today. Things are beginning to get busier in the shop with orders coming in and Covid is still presenting us with loads of problems. Hopefully, with help and patience we'll get through and enjoy the festivities.
Farming-wise. I can report that we've finished drilling all the winter corn seed - that's planting to town folk... With a view to improving the establishment of plants, we've been trialling a new drill. I couldn't be sure, but I think some of those involved were more impressed with the big, shiny 200-horse-power tractor that came with the drill. Personally, I'll wait to see how the crop performs.
This morning I removed the rams from the ewes. Hopefully they will have done what's required of them. One or two look as though they've taken their responsibilities to the extreme and will need nurturing back to full strength.
At the same time, we introduced some new Beltex rams to the ewe lambs that we're bringing into the main flock. Any of these that conceive be rear a lamb will be something of a bonus. Generally, though, it does improve the ewes' mothering instincts.
Wednesday morning was taken up by an inspection from Animal Health, Shropshire County Council, to renew our licence to feed home=produced food to the sheep and cattle. All is well. The paperwork is all up to date.
Next week we're expecting the Christmas trees to arrive. And hopefully, December 3 will see the reopening of the Cote Cafe and perhaps we'll start to feel a bit more 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.