Wark Farm

Organic Farm and Butchery in Aberdeenshire

Phone Number: 01975 581149

News From the Farm April 2024

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  • Posted date:
  • 15-04-2024

A picture of a pair of carrion crows, taken by our wildlife cam.

Stories from the farm April 2024

It was tempting to break with mostly self imposed rule this month, to not write about the weather, and have a good moan about the rain, mud and lack of spring, but that's all just a bit too dispiriting. Although the first calf of the season was born yesterday morning and has had warm sunshine on it's back, so we will hope for better things in the weeks ahead.

erland, called the Chillingham Wild Cattle. And it being on the route of a planned trip to Yorkshire in November, so we did. And fascinating it was.

Instead I had a flick back through my notebook of observations that might get written about one day and was struck about how often I seem to scribble something down about the various crow species that we see at the farm.

We have six species of the wider crow clan here, ever present or occasional. The jay, features the least often in our largely open landscape, manifesting mostly as occasional coarse screeches from the adjacent woodland edges. A rough sound from, in my opinion, the prettiest amongst the local crows; though I did, to my surprise, hear one recently chattering quietly in a much more musical way as it sat on a branch right above me. Next along for plumage, magpies are now pretty much omnipresent at the farm having been a rare sighting in my early years here. The hedges perhaps have given them an additional habitat to move around in though I think they have generally increased in our local area. Muck heaps seem to be a popular hangout for them and while I'm not sure about their reputation for stealing shiny things they were certainly not in our good books when a magpie gang stripped our favourite plum tree of all it's fruits in one day, right on the point of ripeness. I have seen both the magpies and carrion crows incorporate odd bits of farm waste, plastic, etc. into their nests; silage wrap is not what I'd call pretty fluttering in the wind, but each to their own!

Most jolly of the tribe for me are the rooks and jackdaws. I like to watch their purposeful walk and baggy trews as they give us a nod as to which fields are populated with grass grubs and when. Striding sensibly most of the time, I did see an acrobatic display once as they walked along, swung round, hung under and generally put on quite the show on the bars of a metal field gate; though it was late summer and I guess they were searching out hibernating earwigs rather than going for Olympic gold. And when the rooks and the daws get a wild west wind, they'll stop me for a moment to watch as they surf the gusts, in their huge loose flocks, going nowhere, but going there fast. The jackdaws seem particularly fond of the sheep, a relationship which if not entirely mutual may be a little symbiotic. Often have I seen a jackdaw on the sheep, and while sometimes it looks to be a question of a comfy perch, I have also seen quite intense, tolerated, pecking, particularly around the sheep's horns, which I assume to feeding for the bird and insect/parasite removal for the sheep. During one such session, the sheep's eyes half closed in response to the massage, a second bird landed on the sheep's rump and attempted to pull a large tuft of wool. The wool was clearly better fixed to the sheep than anticipated and the grooming session ended very abruptly, with more amusement to me than the participants.

Of ravens, we have a passing interest. They first appeared about five years ago and have remained itinerant if increasingly frequent in recent years. Usually late winter /spring is their time, most often cruising past at altitude but they have taken an interest in the lambing field in more than one year, a circumstance not altogether comfortable. Which leaves us with the carrion crow, the corvid generating the most complex response. It is truly a resident in the farm community, several pairs distributed around the farm. Always watching, if not always watchful, there is no ambivalence in this crow. First voice of the pre-dawn, long before most songbirds begin their watch, and crossing with the owl and the woodcock at days end, it calls in my favourite moments of a day. Wherever I am where I hear it, it stirs in me that beautiful magic of the grey hours in wild places. Just as easily it can deliver a sickening jolt. The consummate opportunist and the focussed hunter. That pair, one on a post, one on the ground beside an uncertain shape; we have an animal sick or dead. The crimson stain on snow of a lamb, alive when the eyes went. The nest of sucked empty eggs. No matter how natural, it’s hard to remain neutral when one is so involved. With crows, as with so much in life, it’s complicated.


The April order form is now updated and online. You can find the link below to the order form with all our different meat cuts available, along with practical info about delivery/collection dates.

Our regular customers already know that it's first come, first serve for our delicious meat cuts that are not only full of flavour due to the breeds we use and their grass/herb diets, but also free of nasties such as pesticides and antibiotics. You can find all the info on the order form, including more info about the specials of the month.

Link to order:

April 2024 Order Form