The latest news from Lord Newborough
Wow - more and more seems to be happening on Rhug Estate.
The month started with a staff lunchtime bluebell walk in the big woodland area behind the Rûg Hall, this was two weeks later than normal due to the colder spring we had. However, as always it was a mind blowing carpet display of bluebells in the woodlands around Rhug with a sensational scent.
It’s the time of year when many children are having time out of the classroom, with school trips taking place. We had the pleasure of welcoming Ysgol y Gwernant, Llangollen, here on a visit which incorporated a cooking lesson, a farm walk, a tractor tour and of course a little time in our play park. Gareth our farm manager, Alun our butcher and Gwen coordinated the day’s events. We love to welcome school children here to Rhug Estate and tell them as much as we can about the benefits of organic farming and about the animals we rear here. It is very rewarding for us and we hope the children enjoy seeing life on an organic farm and learning about the whole farming picture from field to plate.
During the month of May we were very excited to be shortlisted for the prestigious Footprint Award for Sustainable Use of Natural Resources. We were up against Coca Cola and to our absolute thrill on the awards night we won and were awarded this wonderful accolade. Philip Hughes, Estate manager, supported by Emma Story, must take full credit for this. It is indeed an award for everything they have done to harness the natural resources on Rhug Estate including wind, hydro, geothermal and solar projects. The award was presented at a swanky black tie dinner at the Churchill Hotel in London. The evening was attended by Philip Hughes, his wife Sarah and myself.
Half term meant that we were super busy in the Farm Shop, Bistro and our Takeaway On the Hoof to the extent that we broke all sales records in every department. Every member of the team headed up by Mike Hall worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone visiting Rhug had an enjoyable experience. Graham and Debbie led the team in the shop, whilst Jane and Emily and their team were there to welcome everyone into the Bison Grill. The chefs led by John and Elliot made sure that the menu was presented to the highest standard whilst Laura and here team kept smiling as they were bombarded by a relentless stream of hungry customers in a hurry for a quick bite to eat from our takeaway ‘On the Hoof’.
May was a very cold month with far too much rain and we were worried about the lack of grass for the newly born lambs and the forthcoming Royal Welsh Agricultural Society 2016 Grassland Event. During the month, we carried out some environmental work on the Estate, planting trees, new hedgerows, fencing off river corridors and areas with natural habitat, with flora and forna needing to be preserved - all part of our environmental responsibility. This is an important part of or sustainable farming system, ensuring a better and healthier world for future generations to enjoy.
Back at home there continued a flurry of activity on the farm getting ready for the Grassland event as well as spring work that had been delayed by the poor spring weather, sowing, rolling, comb harrowing, late lambs calving and fencing. Both Gareth, the Farm Manager and I were worried that we wouldn't have enough grass for the forthcoming Grassland event and at one stage we were seriously considering pulling the plug. The prospects of a Grassland event without any grass was not a good thought! Then as though it was ‘manna from heaven’ the weather changed and it warmed up, stopped raining and the grass growth did a magical turnaround in our favour. Gareth and his team on the farm were being rightly rewarded for all the hard work they had put in to presenting the farm in showroom condition for this big event. My dog Truffles can be seen sitting in a trial plot of crimson clover which had been specially grown for the event.
As the month progressed, the transformation from having no grass to a respectable amount of grass on the farm for the big event on the 9th June was incredible. It was as though all our prayers had been heard at once, the stress, strain and sleepless nights for Gareth Jones and his worries started to dissipate and everyone began to look forward to the big day. The farm looked amazing and although the tidying up process continued right up to the last minute, all the hard work and planning was falling into place.
For the week running up to the big day, farm machinery of spectacular proportions descended on Rhug farm, the weather was luckily dry and warm. One hundred acres had been put aside for the event, temporary bridges were built where required and headlands were cut to accommodate everyone on the day. The main purpose of the event is to raise money for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and also to enable anyone involved with the conservation and production of grass to show off their latest techniques and equipment.
Ironically after a very wet May, one of our big challenges leading up to the event was to keep the dust down and with the help of a water bowser this was achieved, marking up another rare occurrence for North Wales.
I was bestowed the honour of opening the day and all the hard work of President Richard Jones, his team leader Alun Jones and committee was rewarded in every respect. The day was attended by approaching 5,000 people who flocked in to see an amazing array of £22 million worth of farm machinery being demonstrated over the 100 acre site. Our first bit of rain for four weeks fell at 15:00hh but this failed to dampen everyone’s enjoyment of the day and didn't stop the machinery from being demonstrated. It was a brave turn out in troubled times for the farming industry and a large sum of money was raised for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society. There was a big sigh of relief at the end of the day that it had been a resounding success.
Just to cap and eventful few weeks, both my wife and I had a surprise invitation to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday and attended the Trooping of the Colour in London, a privilege no one should miss out on. This was just the most moving wonderful experience ever, never to be forgotten, something we do so well in this country, the atmosphere on the day was amazing. The queen looked stunning.
Dressed in a radiant green suit with a pink carnation on her hat, a fine example to us all that there is still life at 90. She took the salute from the troops and was up and down to do this like a ‘jack in the box’.
The whole proceedings were run to the second and to cap the magic of the occasion the fly past took place on the dot of 1 o’clock with a spectacular and breath-taking flypast of new and old, with the last of the Red Arrows trailing red white and blue smoke, the sight of was spectacular and made one feel proud of our Queen and country.
Rhug was also descended upon by too many Ford cars to count, a natural pit stop on their tour round beautiful North Wales. It's also been our pleasure to welcome our the Porsche Club, Bentley, here to Rhug, who regularly use our conference room facilities.
From all the team at Rhug we want to wish you all happy days ahead.
We’d love to see you again soon…