Combining Cattle & Woodland

06 August 2020

Harvest is upon us with winter barley being combined and heading for malting, in readiness for breweries across the UK. Every year, harvest signals a renewed urgency to watch weather forecasts, plan and re-plan as they change. As soon as the combine has begun, the baler follows behind collecting winter bedding straw.

This year, straw is in short supply following a dry spring. The crops were short and thin, so each bale counts. However, we made some excellent hay from the herbal grass leys this year which are already lined out in fields ready for winter bale grazing. This will enable us to out winter the herd through January and February, reducing the need to house them and use straw to bed.

The first fields are being cultivated now in preparation for planting more herbal grass leys as we increase the organic area of the farm again this year.

An increased farming area this year includes two farms which have been carefully and expertly farmed by retiring farm tenants Gordon and Lesley Rennie at Stenton and Balcormo. Their tenure began at Balcaskie in 1990, and they have been at the forefront of conventional farming seeing some record breaking crops and taking great interest in their neighbour’s progress. Not moving far, Gordon and Lesley will remain in the village and so as we convert the farm to organic principles – we will be carefully monitored!

Another first for us this year, woodland grazing – or Silvopasture. We opened up an area of established broad leaved woodland to the Lincoln Red cattle to browse and select the diet according to need/want. Fascinating to see what they ate and an indication that they too, need a varied diet – not just grass. By only allowing them to graze for a short time in each area, no damage has been done and the benefit of trampling ground cover, lifting the canopy and allowing light back into the woodland floor will be interesting to watch unfold.

Bowhouse opens its doors to a slightly different sort of market on 8th August when we welcome back the traders who we have been working with on Open Food Network during lockdown. With over 20 traders keen to meet their customers again and an established customer base keen to talk to the producers, we are delighted to be back, even if it’s governed by social distancing.

Sadly, one of the businesses which has not survived lockdown as it was too early in their development to weather the storm, is the Mill House Café. Chris and his team will be re-inventing themselves and no doubt we will see them back before long.

Finally, some new additions to the farm are 4 female pigs (Gilts) who have joined us from Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh. With a change in policy, they were looking for a home for these well loved animals and we were looking for the nucleus of our new pig enterprise. The four ladies have settled in well and are about to embark on an ”arranged relationship” with a boar who will join us soon…..

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