Lord Newborough's blog July & August
These are the months on the farm when we are busy with collecting silage, making hay, planting winter root crops and topping nettles and thistles. One of the challenges on an organic farm is that the weeds cannot be sprayed, so in order to stop the seeds spreading for the following year we mechanically top the nettles and thistles before they seed, an arduous and long winded task. The lambs are getting bigger, so when the mothers are sheared the lambs are weaned off their mothers. This allows their mothers to have a bit of peace and quiet free from their off spring, so that they can be looking their best to meet some handsome ram in September!
The geese and turkeys who arrived on the farm a few weeks ago are now definitely showing some form and enjoying life free-ranging round the fields and the geese have the added luxury of swimming in a stream near to their base.
The weather this summer has been difficult at best with the odd hot week interspersed with weeks of rather mixed cold wet weather making farming very difficult.
The Farm Shop, Bison Grill and On the Hoof are very busy every day as passers by and visitors drop in from far and wide. This always stretches resources in every way but it is nice to have a buzz about the place and see people enjoying the facilities Rhug has to offer. I have a great team and they all seem to rise to the occasion and enjoy the challenges that being busy brings. I am eternally grateful to them for working for days on end under pressure and sometimes in extreme conditions and yet they are still able to smile and make our valuable customers welcome. My thanks go to them all. There have been one or two changes in key positions; Graham Webster has stepped in as acting General Manager following Mike Hall’s departure from the business, Elliot Knox has stepped into John Barkley's shoes as Head Chef at the end of August, and Caron Williams, previously at Ruthin Castle, joined the business as our new Front of House replacing Jane who is considering a move to be with her husband in Doha. Carolyn has now got the all clear from her cancer treatment “hoooooray” and is back in the shop in full strength (a tough old bird!) and Debbie Jones has been a tower of strength in the shop motivating the team and assisting Graham on the shop floor.
Every year we do a coach tour from London for the benefit of our customers; chefs, front of house, and the stores we supply in London.
It is a great chance for us to demonstrate the field to plate experience and we hope that everyone finds it interesting to see and hear the commitment of everyone at Rhug involved in delivering consistently to its customers the best organic lamb, chicken, beef and much more than money can buy. The day involves lunch at the Bistro, a tour of the farm and the cutting plant and a butchery demonstration finishing with tea, a look round the farm shop and then the journey home. Joan Redmond always organises the day with military precision and the bus pulls out of Hammersmith on the dot of eight o’clock and anyone who is not there on time misses out!
This year we had the pleasure of hosting the Merioneth County show, which is always an important part of bringing the community together and a really genuine rural show. Volunteers work tirelessly to make this wonderful day happen and it is always a relief all round when the sun shines and crowds flock in to enjoy the day. This year like all others there was a wonderful array of stands, machinery and beautifully turned out animals and the atmosphere was tremendous. For me the highlight was to see six members of farm staff awarded medals for long service to agriculture for what added up to 209 years working at Rhug. I was very proud to see Gareth Williams, Keith Jones, John Dyke, John Uren, Robert Hughes, and the infamous Ron Crimp (who sadly couldn't be there on the day because he was in hospital) being awarded their well deserved medals for loyalty, dedication and commitment over so many years.
July and August is holiday time for many and we are so lucky having a little house on an Island called Vis in Croatia where I love going when time allows, it is so beautiful there and so special and the one place in the world I can really relax.
The house is situated in the heart of a very small historic village in a stunning sheltered harbour right on the sea. So the daily activities include boating, scootering, bicycles, swimming, eating, and drinking. In fact you come back more exhausted than when you leave but it's pleasure exhaustion not work exhaustion.
August is the start of the shooting season, with the “Glorious 12th” marking the first day of the grouse shooting season. This is always exciting and so much depends on what weather we had in the spring when the birds hatch out. If it is wet like last year many chicks drown and the season can be a complete wash out. This year it was good so grouse are plentiful. The grouse are completely wild and numbers have to be controlled in order to prevent disease. Shooting grouse is not only a privilege it is a treat to be up on the hill surrounded by such wild beauty and silence. Of all the game birds you can eat grouse is my favourite.
At last a spell of good weather is in sight and it's time to get the combine out, we have 300 acres to do this year, which will provide the winter feed we require for our cattle and sheep this winter. Gosh! - Where is the year going? We are now thinking seriously about Christmas, Graham is now looking at Christmas stock for the shop and Charlotte, in sales, is clocking up the turkey sales that are more advanced this year than any other year for the last 10 years, so if you really want an organic goose or turkeyfor Christmas this year ring the office now and speak to her on 01490 413000.
Wishing you ever happiness,