Over the Christmas we made a bit of a decision. Having lovingly built up our herd of Mangalitsa over the last three years, we decided that it was time to change breeds. Whilst we were extremely fond of them as characters, we just didn't have the route to market (or time to work out the route to market, more realistically!) to sell the charcuterie, I was getting fewer and fewer enquiries for weaners and finally (probably most importantly) Jon doesn't actually even like charcuterie! We had had some wonderful times taking them to shows and meeting all kinds of people, but it was time to say 'au revoir'.
In addition, there had been very pleasing developments in the final stage of our marathon of planning applications. We had been granted permission to convert three of our old cob barns into holiday lets and the old cider barn into a small farm shop, from which we will be able to sell the meat we produce on the holding! We've been selling pork, lamb and beef to our friends and family over the last few years and one thing that has become increasingly evident is that classic, good quality bacon and sausage is what sells. Charcuterie is a far more expensive product (and rightly so - it takes fifteen months to bring on a premium charcuterie Mangalitsa) and therefore a harder sell.
Fortunately, within days of making the decision a community interest farm came to view the herd and last week they were all loaded into a trailer to begin new lives. They will be grown on to provide premium Mangalitsa pork for a very smart newly renovated hotel in Rock, in Cornwall.The head chef there has contacted me and is thrilled to be working with such an incredible and rare product. We have kept old Tilly, our first Mangalitsa, as a pet (sentimental, I know) and Jamie, the younger boar is still with us and looking for a new home. as the farm didn't want two boars. I will always look back fondly on our time with the breed; the picture on the left is of the day we brought Pumba the boar (left) and Tilly (right) home and I have to admit I cried my eyes out saying goodbye to Pumba, but fortunately we can go and visit the whole herd as their new home is open to the public.
Brr! We have had the most beautiful run of frosty days on the farm recently. I've just come in from giving Ernie, our old horse, some warm 'pony porridge'. His neigh of happiness made it worth venturing out in the cold.
We've applied for a grant from Devon County Council to plant more trees on and around the farm this year-specifically in this area picture on the left. We are already in the middle tier of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, an agri environment scheme run by the government. However, we want to do even more. Though we are only a small farm- tiny by commercial standards- we can all do our bit.
Earlier this month our three cockapoo puppies went off to their new homes, which was a bittersweet pleasure. We loved having them around and giving them the best possible start in life. it's now down to their lovely new owners to take over the mantle. We are looking forward to having them all back for a BBQ this summer and seeing how they've grown! Rearing a litter of pups is certainly not for the faint hearted- we only had three and were exhausted by the end of the process!
Rusty and Bonnie are certainly enjoying having a rest and all the extra attention!
All the cattle and pigs are inside at this time of the year in their new accommodation in the top sheds. Not only does this mean that they aren't poaching up the land and damaging the soil, it also gives us the opportunity to get up close to them and check them over thoroughly as well as AI (artificially inseminate) our female cows, Audrey, Petal and Marion as they come into season so that we have calves in ten months time.We don't have a bull, mainly because it's hardly worth it for just the three of them but also because of the extra dangers associated with them. We've certainly had some very nice calves through AI, for which we use a super bull- Forde Abbey Omega.
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