WTM Newsletter No 52 ........ birthing season over.

Fresh Beef Wed 1st July

We will have a steer available in August so this is bought in.
Grass Fed.
28 Day hung.
Orders in by 6pm on Sunday 28th June please.

Beef boxes available -
Over £50 worth of beef at 10 % off marked prices. usually contains 2 joints, 2 steaks, 3 x 500g mince, 3 x 500g casserole
plus sausages / burgers. Each box is made to your requirements e.g.  you choose which joints and what size.

£25 worth of mixed grill meats for £20.

Should satisfy 8 - 10 carnivores.8 burgers, 16 sausages then a mix of 2 x steaks / chops, chunks for kebabs and belly strips or spare ribs. A variety of pork, beef and lamb with a mix of flavours. This is a good selection pack if you want to try a bit of everything before buying larger quantities such as a half pig or lamb or a beef box. Be prepared for that sunny day and have a BBQ box ready in your freezer.

Shop opening times:

Fridays and Saturdays 10am - 5pm
On Thursdays from 11am when we are labelling up the fresh meat and processing orders for FREE LOCAL DELIVERY
We will be at St Mary's Arts Centre for the Farmers' Market again on Friday 3rd July. Why not place an order to collect from there ? Usually 10 other local produce stalls and cakes and coffee available. See you there !


Half Price Sausages

Come and have a rummage through the B.O.G.O.F basket and the sausage freezer. Anything with a cross on is half marked price. They are mainly plain and Cumberland pork sausages at present - all just past their 6 months best before date but perfectly fine to consume.


Bob's Garden

Produce picked or dug to order, no irradiation treatment round here so best to let us know what you would like so we can prepare it for you. Potatoes, onions, garlic, spring onions, lettuce, broad beans, rhubarb, radish, raspberries, spinach, some large green leaves suitable for a nutri bullet or equivalent - must ask what they are........ and Sweet Peas.

Garlic drying.


Egg collecting

Every Friday and Saturday if you would like to, come and collect your own eggs to then buy. Guaranteed laid that morning.
Just one word of caution - the hens are partial to a peck at painted toe nails especially in red. Here they are enjoying a dust bath in a 'pool' of their own creation.


Spot the dog

Poppy, now 20 months being brave amongst the sows who have just been given fresh bales of straw.



Next time ....... making silage and hay in an English summer - hopefully.
I may not have produced a newsletter for 2 1/2 months but we have produced several calves, piglets and lambs.

The last calf was born on May 14th, 6 weeks after the start of the lambing and calving season. During this time Phil covers from 5pm until around 1am and I check on them whenever I wake up, usually around 3am and then the day starts again around 7am. Needless to say we are sleep deprived and crotchety for the duration, but job satisfaction levels are high when things go well. The last few always seem to drag on but actually having a 6 week birthing period is tight. I know this because Phil had circled an article in one of the many farming magazines which hang around on the kitchen table. Key performance indicators for suckler herds ( KPIS )....... a compact calving period is under 12 weeks so who am I to feel hard done by getting up early for only 6 weeks. Accidentally we also fulfilled another KPIS by calving some heifers at 2 years of age ( instead of 3 ) but this was due to the castration rings not doing a complete job and us leaving a 'rig' in with the heifers.

This is Maisie winner of 'prettiest calf 2015' as chosen and named by a local Girl Guide group on a farm tour.

Turn out is a very exciting time after the cows have been indoors all winter and the first time the calves have been in a field. Click the link below to see!
If that worked you can also marvel at the technology being employed, brought to you courtesy of younger son being home from Uni'.

This is the herd now, and they are running out of grass in their field so we have started zero grazing. A strip has been mown in the adjacent field then collected up in the tractor bucket and dumped in their field. This way they eat the grass more efficiently without trampling and messing on it; convenient as the mower is already on the tractor for silaging and hay making. They all had fly repellant treatment yesterday and Stanley the bull introduced - the cycle ( hopefully ) starting again.
I am probably tempting fate by saying this but the lambs have got off to an excellent start. The Spring weather meant most were in the field 48 hours after being born and we fed the ewes concentrate only for a month. Here the ewes are all lined up at the trough while the lambs not yet interested in solid food play on a hill conveniently left as a playground. It is actually silage the cattle didn't eat last year which has been rounded up so it didn't kill the grass but hadn't yet been taken out onto the muck heap.  We have only spot treated a few lambs for worms so far; again an unusually good start for them ( and us ).

Productivity wise the pig herd continues to perform well. This sow got up to feed for the first time after giving birth and we kept an eye on her as she settled back down which she managed to do without squashing any of her 19 piglets. OK, how many of you counted ? Only 17 ........there are two already round at the milk bar.
As to the fat levels on the finished pigs ( groan ) we are still having to restrict feed up to 36 pigs each week, the rest being fed ad lib. This obviously slows down their growth rate which is not what we want but neither does the butcher or the customer want to buy fat pigs these days. It is the females we are having trouble with at the P2 probe which measures back fat. Though I can empathise with females with a bit of extra fat round the middle we are trying to reduce this in the short term by restricting intake, in the medium term by adjusting the ration and in the longer term by improved genetics. The first breeding company we were recommended to go with over a year ago had an excellent boar / sire line some of which are now our working boars but the dam / female line turned out to be even fatter than our previous home bred gilts. We have just started using artificial insemination ( AI ) from another breeding company and hopefully in the Autumn some leaner gilts will be born.

Good Friday saw over 250 visitors here on farm tours and others stopping by just to sample our sausages and burgers on the BBQ. We are very grateful to the team of family and friends who  helped ( again ) from marquee erection on the Thursday through a full day of providing refreshments, children's activities, egg collecting and Easter bunny / guinea pig petting on the Friday. I must remember to designate a photographer as we were all flat out on other jobs so no pictorial evidence. I suppose I could have taken a photo of the muddy lawn afterwards as evidence of heavy foot fall. It has recovered.

There were only 4 lambs 'on the bottle' this year and before they were weaned any customers / visitors / passers by were encouraged to assist. Some have even progressed to donning a boiler suit and helping out for longer :-)

Phil always seems to have an ongoing construction project. At the moment, behind schedule of course, is the conversion of an old trailer into a mobile water tank. It will also house the electric fencing unit for when we have stock grazing on rented fields. It was basically reduced to a chassis before being re constructed. Here the flooring is being lowered into place - he must have measured twice and cut once because it is a good fit.

Part of the reason for the lack of a newsletter recently has been due to an enforced technology upgrade. Most of the pictures are taken on our mobiles. Phil's phone was due an upgrade. He wanted one as near to being indestructible as they make .... the CAT builder phone with reversing lorry ring tone was purchased. We then discover it was too modern to speak to our computer running on XP. Said computer on hearing it was due to be replaced decided to have the last laugh and initiate a terminal illness. What began as an upgrade for our convenience suddenly became urgently compulsory as who can run a business without being able to fill in forms on line ? Even the livestock movement licenses can only be applied for and issued on line and we need one every Monday before an animal can move off the place. After consulting TCS Ltd ( the computer shop in Colchester - yes, they get a plug because Roy was only calling in to collect a meat order as we were putting the marquees up for Good Friday, and ended up staying an hour sorting out ratchet straps; a very frustrating male invention ). Anyway, they had a bulk load of reconditioned towers running on Windows 7. Sorted. Just the transferring of files and learning your way round a new system to take care of. We are getting there. Enough use of technology - till the next time.
Please visit our web site              www.garrhousefarm.co.uk
Or contact us on 01206 735 694  or 07790 095 052

Kate Gladwin        Garr House Farm, Layer Road, Gt. Wigborough, Colchester Essex CO5 7RR

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Wigborough Traditional Meats · Garr House Farm · Gt.Wigborough · Colchester, Essex CO5 7RR · United Kingdom

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