Here it is, already the end of the summer. The new holiday cottages have been full and kept me very busy - the final calf born, a successful show season finished, haylage made for winter feed, honey bottled, and all the usual livestock ‘maintenance’.
Old Coombe Cottages were off to a flying start in early July. We have been pretty much fully booked since then, with the month ahead also busy. Old Sawyers, our thatched cottage in the village is also a holiday let so I have become a full time cleaner! I’m really proud of what we have accomplished with a sad old cattle shed. It was fun to decorate and furnish and our guests have been full of compliments. We let through www.holidaycottages.co.uk, who have been excellent.
Most of the cattle spent the summer up on Crabbe Hill, thriving on the rough grass, doing their bit for conservation by eating the Himalayan balsam and crushing the gorse. We moved them down the second week of August and our Highland bull, Frazzle, was finally united with 5 cows and a heifer. But a few days later we noticed he was lame. Back he came to the holding area, vet inspected, and he had basically sprained his ankle. (That is my rather simplistic explanation). Archie and I lured him into the crush every few days for an anti-inflammatory injection. Not fun. This week we moved him back, must to his delight. So calving will be over an extended period next spring and summer.
We attended a couple more shows this summer with the Portland sheep. The Rare Breed show at Singleton in West Sussex was quite a distance to travel but what a lovely show it was. We has a decent number of Portland Breeders there, good weather in a beautiful field on the grounds of the Weald and Down Museum. And our ram lamb got a First.
Melplash, our local show, was the highlight of the summer. I received a Third for my two year old ram, a First for my badly behaved ram lamb, a Third for the ewe lamb, and a First for my lovely shearling ewe Daphne. Minty, my fabulous halter training helper, showed her beautifully. And Daphne went on to win Best of Breed! So we got to strut around in the grand Parade. A great day to finish the season.
The weather has been up and down this summer, a couple of heat waves and then cooler rainy days in August. The grass has grown well and we managed to get plenty of bales of haylage for winter feeding. Archie has been taking care of the permanent grassland fields, topping and spot killing the nettle and docks. Dan has been busy with his bees, but was disappointed in the final yield - forty five jars of honey (still almost double last year). He had two swarms at the worst possible time. But he did get a Third at Melplash for a frame of honey!
I am now supplying two local restaurants with Highland beef and Portland hogget. That looks to expand with keen interest from a local gastro pub. And the September fete for Weldmar Hospice Trust in Dorchester will be serving Highland burgers. My wonderful mother was so kindly treated by hospice nurses in Florida. So I am donating in her memory, she would have loved my farm….
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.