Unfortunately, due to the current situation, we had to cancel all our on-farm courses this year but, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade or even better, make cider.
With that in mind, I’m happy to announce that we finally have a full premises licence to sell alcohol and are currently working on branding for our cider and Perry. This was my lockdown project.
Brainstorming future business ideas always seems to work better in the cider house after a pint or two and a business plan is now in place, with some exciting ideas for the future. Watch this space.
The orchard is looking great and the perry trees are laden with pears. We are now on countdown to scrumping season and cider making in October and November. It has been made on the farm since 1696 when a farm worker’s wages regularly included cider.
This was apparently brought to an end in 1887 when the Trunk Act made it illegal, but Jim still seems to think it still stands. Quality control will remain a very important part of the job.
Harvest is now finished for the year. Our barley had a battering but came off better than we expected.
Barley stubble has been disced, power harrowed, rolled and laid down with a Broadsword ley from Oliver Seeds, with red and white clover and a four year duration, ready for the next rotation. We have used this for the last 12 years and it suits our farming system.
Jim has been shopping and returned with some cracking Beltex cross tups to put on the yearlings, with Beltex tups for the ewe lambs and Charollais cross Texel tups for the older ewes. All are from local breeders with a reputation for good breeding stock. The fields will soon be a rainbow of raddle paint.
This week was my first week back in a classroom and, to be honest, I was quite apprehensive. My lectures for university students are mainly remote (online) but college students are in a group bubble and on site for some lessons.
As teachers, we stand two metres away from the group and masks are optional in the classroom. I had planned to wear mine but then found out I had a student who was hard of hearing and relied on lip reading. I think there will be plenty more curve balls as we find our way in this new normal.
There is an uncertainty and pressure regarding the reopening of schools and colleges but this crisis has also stimulated innovation within the education sector.
Over the summer we took part in numerous online training events on approaches and techniques to engage and motivate students online. As a previous technophobe, I’m now looking forward to trying these out.