Manor Organic Farm Newsletter – September 2018

Welcome to our occasional newsletter

The major news in the shop is the arrival of James who is going to gradually take over the management of the shop from Viv, both of us will still be involved but you probably won’t see us as often. James comes from a very customer focussed background being deputy manager at Hilton hotels and is looking forward to making sure the shop is a great place to visit and buy your organic food.

On the farm it has been the most challenging year from a weather point of view we have ever experienced in our farming lives. We had a very cold, wet and long winter and spring and then suddenly the hot weather and drought. We have been feeding all the stock hay for the past two months and will continue to do so probably until they come inside in November. This is will make the winter feeding interesting as supplies run out, we may need a nice early spring.

The weather has a knock on effect on everything. Harvest is complete with not a lot of good quality grain all of which was grown for seed so must pass quite rigorous tests including no seeds of some weeds like wild oats. This can be quite challenging organically and requires good rotations and a bit of hand weeding mainly during the Wimbledon fortnight. We are busy cultivating the stubbles to encourage weeds to germinate before ploughing them under in October.

On the livestock side we have been to a few shows with the sheep, the best result was at The Royal Three Counties in Malvern where we got a second with our ram lamb. The competition is fierce and standards are high. All the stock are struggling with the drought and it is a constant worry to make sure they have enough food and water. Sheep generally prefer dry to wet summers though I think even they would agree that this has been too dry and too hot.

Amy, our daughter is running “Little Farmers” which is a holiday club during the holidays and a before and after school club during term time. The children have a lovely time doing lots of farm related activities from making jam, feeding and mucking out animals to collecting eggs.

We recently opened our gates for a farm walk, giving visitors the opportunity to go behind the scenes with an informative guided tour of the farm.  The walk, on Saturday 15th September was part of the Organic September initiative with the aim of enabling the public to engage with the farm and learn about what we do right from the farm through to the shop.  All together we were thrilled that almost 50 people came and enjoyed a rare farm insight and sampled tea, coffee, and our homemade cakes courtesy of our organic bakery.

Finally, the turkeys have arrived and are starting to grow though it is difficult to believe they will be ready for Christmas, but they will as once they get going their food consumption is phenomenal. People refer to turkeys as gobbling and I am not sure whether this is the noise they make or how much food they eat!