What will 2020 bring? Well we’ve been visited by Storm Brendan – and seemingly his brother/cousin/sister-in-law as well over the last few days, but the forecast for the weekend – and dare we say it, beyond, is looking brighter.
We start a new year here at Rhydgaled with two new arrivals – two Saddleback gilts, which we’ll refer to as Nessa and Stacey. As our pork, bacon and particularly, our sausages are proving to be increasingly popular, we’ll be producing a little more often this year.
Our pigs remain dual purpose – providing fantastic quality meat as well as continuing to help with the improvement of our land. Nessa and Stacey are joining in with the clearing and turning over the rushes and rough ground so that it can be re-sown with grasses designed to cope with our conditions. The wet weather does it make it harder work – but the pigs have troughs mounted on solid pallets, so they can get up out of the mud to eat, and their houses are kept topped up with clean, dry straw.
We’d like to say well done to our two rams – Sampson and Solo – all of our 18 breeding ewes are in lamb again this year. Scanning took place last week and our results are the best yet – 200%. From the scan results – which are still quite early for us, as the rams were only take out at the beginning of December, we have 14 ewes due to produce twins, 2 with single lambs and 2 with triplets. There is always the potential for these numbers to be slightly higher when we come lambing time as we found out with quite a few extras last year. We’re due to lamb right at the beginning of April and so keeping a close eye on the mums-to-be is one of our top priorities over the next few months.
The chickens have moved house to give them fresh grass to scratch at – and they do enjoy perching in the tree that’s in their other enclosure. Having moulted before Christmas, the egg brigade is doing pretty well just now, with eggs being used for breakfasts for our farmstay bed and breakfast guests and cake orders, as well as keeping the local community supplied from our road-side egg house. We’ve had to add in some protection against the starlings who, without the protective netting, were devouring the chicken feed within hours of us filling the feeder. The nets have helped enough – some of the more clever birds still get in and help themselves, but it’s only a few. The rest are making do with the bird feeder which we keep topped up.
Talking about our bed and breakfast, although things have quietened down a little, we had back to back guests between Christmas and New Year and have already welcomed our first visitors of 2020. More importantly for us, we have our first returning guests staying this weekend. So we must be doing something right!
January might be a quiet time for the veg garden, but it means we can be prepared for the next season of planting and growing. Beds have been prepared with the contribution from Roodle and Mojo in the form of well-rotted manure and with the seed catalogues recently arrived, it’s time to start planning for the spring.
So what will 2020 hold for us? Our “to do” jobs board in the kitchen is constantly updated with new tasks and projects that we need and want to tackle. One thing we’re still really keen to do is produce free-range chickens for the table and if we can work out how to satisfy the various regulations (mostly in terms of the processing unit), then this will happen. Aside from that, it’s a case of improve and increase what we’re already offering – both in terms of our produce and farmstay accommodation offerings.
Most importantly – our aim is to continue enjoying our Good Life here in beautiful West Wales (yes, it’s even beautiful today with wet and windy weather and muddy fields).