February 2017 at Wark Farm
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Long time customers of Wark Farm will know that the farm has been through a few incarnations over the years (they will also know that sometimes I'm very late with my monthly email, like this one, sorry!). The business was originally built up on a relatively large organic pig herd meeting a gap in the market in the area for good quality pork and we produced a wide range of fresh, cooked and cured pork products. A few years ago we stopped producing pigs entirely and we now have no pigs. We have also over the years produced our own free ranging meat chickens, reared and sold a few different breeds of meat ducks and even a few guinea fowl for a while. As time has passed and we have seen through a few seasons, tried a few enterprises and got to know the land and climate here and how it responds to organic management, we have fine tuned how the farm is run and what we produce.
So after 13 years our focus now is on being a high quality organic grassland farm working with animal species that thrive on grass rather than cereal based diets. We have plenty to do still to get closer to our aims, continuing to improve the quality and species richness of the pastures and how we manage our rotations and the control of parasites but ecologically speaking this chunk of Aberdeenshire upland is best suited to producing high quality meat from grass using our traditional breeds of cattle, sheep and the geese. All grazers, happy to munch their way round our fields they are also well suited to surviving our sometimes wild weather. The wilder the weather the happier the geese seem to be!
But knowing that there is more to cooking than beef, lamb and geese we work increasingly with other small producers to bring you other meats. Last month we trailed a batch of chickens from a small producer, rearing then specifically for us. The birds were rather large but feedback on taste has been good. We have another batch this month of a more typical chicken size which will hopefully be as tasty as the last ones and the rearer is experimenting with different chicken breeds to see how we can produce the best tasting free range chicken we can.