Happiness is a curly tail

Farmer’s Diary by Ruth Kimber.

We are in the middle of our end-of-year stock takes, which is not too bad for the farm, but counting all the jars, packs and packaging in the shop takes much longer.
We now are stocking New season English asparagus – a real taste of spring! We are taking orders for Easter, including lamb and all our other tasty meat options.
Now the weather is better we once again have pigs at the farm shop. They are always a hit with our younger visitors! We buy them from smallholders as weaners, favouring Gloucester Old Spots, GLO cross and sometimes other ‘old traditional breeds’. We are always on the look-out for weaners, which we grow through to finish. We have grown pigs for all our married life, and our families before us. Traditional breeds, grown slowly, are the best tasting. They have a good layer of fat, which provides succulent, marbled meat and excellent crackling. Happy pigs taste better. Ours have deep straw beds, toys and an outside yard. Their curly tails are a sign of a happy, healthy pig, and all our pigs all have curly tails! But the cost of food will inevitably have an impact on profit and retail cost. The term “nose to tail eating” is now frequently referenced, as if it were something new, but this has always been our ethos, with all our meat animals. We sell all the edible parts of cows, pigs, sheep and poultry, including pig tails!
The cows are settled to grass, but most of the beef and youngstock are still housed, so the winter yard work continues.
Paul and I have started clearing some of the fallen branches and trees that came down courtesy of storm Eunice. It’s a job we really enjoy, firstly taking off the brush wood, then cutting up the branches to cord-wood length, and finally logging it up. Then a grandchild helps to collect it with the gator and stacks it to season in readiness for the next winter’s fires.
Our costs have risen still further. Shortages are now being found in seeds, fertiliser and all sorts of other essentials – I have heard that galvanised water troughs are particularly difficult to get hold of at the moment!
In happier news, I’ve just had a birthday, and Claire, who works wonders in the shop kitchen making our scotch eggs and pasties (among other delights) baked me a delicious cake. Now, I’m not a sweet tooth person, which Claire is aware of because we are always celebrating birthdays at the farm. So she made a wonderful ginger cake decorated with mascarpone icing. It was a real surprise because my birthday was on a weekend, and I just didn’t expect it. My Bath Farmers’ Market team made it possible for me to have the day off, so we invited some friends to have breakfast with us at the ‘Kitchen at Kimbers’. Then we headed off to Beer, meeting up with Fran and Andrew and granddaughters Olivia and Felicity. On Mothering Sunday morning, my friend Jean Sellick, with her granddaughters Mabel and Esther, and I made posies for the local church Mothering Sunday service.

Kimbers Farm Shop,
The Kitchen, Somerset Trading Barn, BA9 8HD 01963 33177
Open Tuesday – Friday, 8.30am-5pm;
Saturday, 9.30am-4pm.

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