News from Wark Farm April 2021
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The hares certainly know the lie of our land better than we do.
Newsletter April 2021
In the sky, on the plate, coo-ing from the tree outside my window ... I do like pigeons. In many and various ways I’ve always been drawn to them. I even had a stage in my life where I was rather obsessed with doocots, those structure used for the housing of domestic pigeons and I have kept such a breeding flock for meat production. Just for the moment though I was noticing them for another reason, as one of a number of biological signs and portents that play their part in keeping us in tune with the farm as the seasons go round. At this time of year, in an area where we don’t often see large flocks of wood pigeons, the appearance of concentrations of their numbers on our grass fields is a sure sign to say that our all important clover is waking and lifting after its winter torpor. I can't be pleased that just as I know that the perfect young leaves are coming through that the pigeons are plucking them off but as the flock clatters and rattles into the air after some fright, to settle in the adjoining forest, I will stop to watch, perhaps with an ambiguous smile.
Pigeons swaying heavily on the telephone wires crossing a barley field in late summer will tell me they have spotted that the crop is falling down, perhaps after heavy rain, and I should keep an eye on it. Rooks lining up on the fence will say something similar. With no ambiguous feelings at all, spotting a carrion crow, even worse a pair, near to a lying down cow or sheep causes the heart to lurch and the step to quicken to investigate. An animal sick, dead or somehow otherwise ground bound very quickly receives their attention and they will lose little time in making the situation worse, though with luck we will spot their cue first and attend to the ailment.
The buzzard, lifting into the air from tight behind the hedge, unless breakfasting on rabbit, may be telling us to look for a death in the night. The moles tells us of the abundance of worms, the roe deer of the freshness of the grazing and the flock of rooks on the germinating barley that we may have a problem with cranefly grubs. The latter can cause huge damage to the roots of the barley seedlings though under organic standards our options for control are limited. The best advice I was given (other than manage the land to avoid it occurring) was that on a warm, damp night the grubs come to the soil surface and I should roll the field with the heavy grass roller, squashing the grubs as we go. It wouldn’t really make any difference to the crop I was to understand, but it might relieve some of my irritation and frustration at seeing the crop disappear if I go and pop a few of the maggots. In their slower and more measured way the plants give out their signals too. The presence of one of the Deschampsia grasses will tell me as surely as getting the spade out and digging a soil pit that that area of soil will be grey and clay like from persistently high groundwater levels. The emergence of shoots of Juncus sedge in a good field where there was none before suggests that the drain there needs some attention, while others may tell of a soil pH sliding to acidic and a need to apply lime.
We’re on the land here a lot, we make our living from it, and yet we’re slouches compared to the animals and plants we share the land with. So it pays to tune in, and gives me the perfect excuse, as often as I need it, to simply stop and watch all the life on the farm go by.
The April order form is now open.
On our product range for this month:
* There's our usual list of aged Belted Galloway Beef
* Hebridean Hogget/Lamb, the full range of fresh cuts
* Venison medaillons and fillet (very limited quantity available)
* We also have our home cured bacons and delicious gammon steaks back on the menu, as well as gammon boiling joints to make your own hams.
* A good selection of pies, including our new-but-already-popular Spring Pea Pie with garden peas, onions roasted until caramelisation and a hint of fennel and garlic. And we also have our special seasonal pie, our Lamb & Wild Garlic Pie.
Ordering deadline: Tuesday 13th April, 1pm.
Order confirmations are not sent out automatically, but will be emailed to you by latest Wednesday 14th April.
COLLECTION/DELIVERY INFO: Orders can be collected at the farm (Sunday 18th April between 11.00am to 2pm) or picked up at Banchory Farmers Market (Saturday 17th April). We also do deliveries in central Aberdeen and Aberdeen City and most of Deeside and Donside. Deliveries this time will exceptionally be spread over 2 days, being Thursday 15th April and Friday 16th April. If you choose for home delivery, you will not be able to chose on which of the 2 days it will be delivered but we will email you on Wednesday 14th April to let you know when your delivery will be. Delivery is free of charge for orders above £40, otherwise it is £5 delivery charge. Please check with us whether we deliver to your area if this is the first time you're ordering from us.
The updated order form link is below.
As ever please get in touch if you have any queries.
Laurel & Sabrina