Spring… and as per our featured photo, Spring delivered, we had snow! We woke up in the middle of the night two weeks ago to see a flurry of snow outside! It snowed lightly through the night and in the morning, we awoke to a snow-dusted landscape! It didn’t last long but was still beautiful! Also, having snow fall on 9 September was a hat-trick – since the Kauerauf family have been at Bramleigh, this will be the third snowfall on 9/09!
The Market Garden
The Market Garden has been gently massaged back into action over the last few weeks. After the snow, planting began. Here is the difference of two weeks:
Our crops so far are lettuce, rocket, beetroot and the popular baby carrots.
Some of our other produce at the moment – sunflower, broccoli and pea shoot micro greens, tomatoes and pasture raised eggs.
Arrival of 200 broilers
The much anticipated arrival of 200 broiler chicks took place this month too. After our bad experience last season with a draughty brooder, we may have been guilty of keeping these guys a little too warm in their brooder with not enough ventilation to clear the dust and ammonia from their droppings. We suffered some loss in the first few days. At least, that is what we think it is. Always a challenge to work out whether it is a breeding issue or management issue. However, the rest are growing happily, chirping away, dirt bathing and generally enjoying their brooder days – who couldn’t enjoy a view like that! Soon they will be moving out onto pasture to enjoy the unimpeded view…
Initially we wanted to start our chicks in the brooder in August so that they could be out on pasture during September when the weather is warm but not too wet yet… however we didn’t quite get there in time. And gladly so because otherwise they would have been out in the snow! We have had a few drizzly days, a nice gentle rain to soak and soften the soil before we plant. The weather has been quite erratic with freezing cold days and then temperatures close on 30C the next day. It has proven difficult to keep the brooder at a constant temperature. But once we were past the crucial stage, it is good for hardening the birds before they go outside. The one constant has been wind. Normally August is windy but the wind has continued right through September… argh!
Animal Shelters – pigs and goats
The building of shelters for the new additions this season is well underway. On the left is the start of our pig shelters and on the right is a stable, with the anticipated arrival of baby goats in the next few weeks. The goats will be tiny babies, brand new, coming from a cheese farm nearby and needing to be bottle raised. We can’t wait! We are still sourcing piglets but hopefully by the end of next month, they will be happily inhabiting those shelters. The piglets will be kept in electro-net within a permanently fenced camp for the first few weeks, allowing them to be very secure and protected while they get the hang of things, and learning how the electro-net works. The electro-net will be moved around within the camp to give fresh ground. Once a little older, they will be moved in their electro-net to free range out onto a pasture with forest – the ideal setting for pigs! Well… this is the theory… as with any animal, observation will inform every decision and this plan may well change!
The guesthouse has been quieter recently, giving us the opportunity to visit a few Farmer’s Markets. It has been quite an interesting experience, knowing which markets to choose to ensure the right target group. Preparing for a market takes days of work – printing adverts, information and pricing, preparing products, harvesting veggies, packaging and labelling as well as checking and packing all the equipment – gazebos, chairs, sign boards, float etc. On the morning of the market, we get up really early and load frozen chickens into cooler-boxes, carefully pack fresh produce and veggie packs. It normally takes at least an hour to load up in the morning. Then the market set up and at the end of the day, the process begins again in reverse. One has to hope that there is little produce to pack and take home again! Sadly, this was not the case for the markets we have recently attended. Bramleigh and Kim, from Happy Heart Foods, attended a couple markets together which was great fun. It has been great to work alongside like-minded partners to share the ups and downs of this work. Together we are plotting some exciting ideas for sales going forward…
Just a few more days left on our Spring Special – book a two night stay and get a 5% discount plus 6 pasture raised eggs and a bunch of fresh veg from the farm! Until 30 September…