It’s hard to belief it’s been 6-ish months since I last wrote for our farm blog. I sometimes wonder, with my love of words, why I can’t seem to write a blog more regularly. I think it’s because, when it’s all going on, I’ve no time to write about it. And when things have slowed down a bit, and I could write about it all…there’s a million things to catch up on. But here we go…!
My last blog was about the upcoming harvest of our hogget and mutton. It’s all in the freezer now, and yours for the asking. In that blog, I mentioned that we’d be keeping our prices at 2021 levels, but actually, we’re going to do better than that. The Cost of Living Crisis is hitting many in our community, so we’re slashing our prices: any cut for £10/kilo (while supplies last): shoulder, rolled or on the bone, legs large and small, ribs, and cutlets. Hogget or mutton. We’re holding mince and dice at £13/kilo, as those items cost us more to produce, but also lowering shanks to £6/kilo. Some of the cutlets are frozen in family sized packs, and some in packs of just two pieces. Some of the on-the-bone shoulders are enormous (for Hebrideans). So get in touch if you’re planning a dinner for yourself, your family, or a whole batch of visiting relatives – we’ll make sure you have what you need.
Are you on a lower energy tariff at night? Our rolled shoulders or small-cut leg portions are perfect for slow-cooker preparation. I set it up during the evening kitchen clean-up: a small rolled shoulder, a large wedged onion, and few garlic cloves and whatever herb/spice mix catches my fancy. Not too much salt, as it cooks down, you can always add more later. Pour in one can of fruity cider, and two cans of water. Set the cooker on low, and switch it on after the night-tariff has kicked in – mine has a timer, so I set it for 8 hours, otherwise just check it when you get up in the morning. It’ll be falling off the bone delicious! Chuck it in the fridge for the day, and when you’re ready to eat, add some quick potatoes and veg to the menu, and voila! A low energy, high-taste meal for the family.
Speaking of meals… We’re planning the summer garden, and putting in some more perennials, but also trying some new things. Have you ever tried growing sweetcorn in the Highlands? Don’t be put off by the long growing period: find a corner in your poly-tunnel, or a suntrap in the garden and go for it! We loved eating our own last year, and though we only managed a few cobs, we’re going to try it again this year, now that we think we know what we’re doing. Do you have something you’re determined to grow? We’d love to hear about your experiments and stubborn attempts to grow a favorite fruit or veg. Meanwhile, with the young trees we put in last year, our orchard has expanded to 20+ trees. And the maturing trees gave us a good little harvest of apples last year, so we went out and bought a press. I froze some of the juice, so we’re still drinking last year’s apple juice in February – it’s pretty yummy! Look out for an Apple Day event here at the farm in October. You’ll be able to bring your apples, and get them pressed into juice. More info to come, later in the year – our Facebook followers will probably be the first to hear more details, so if you don’t follow us there yet, find us here.
Flock reduction time. Believe it or not, we’re still recovering from when one of the only two abattoirs in the HIghlands shut down during the covid pandemic in 2021. This shutdown meant our boys were on the farm longer than usual, and this was followed by lambing season the next spring delivering more ram lambs than any year prior. At a time when we’re trying to be gentle on our land, our ram fields are under heavy grazing pressure. So… we’re clearing some space in the male herd. Visit our live sales page if you’re looking to beef up your flock with some breeding stock, or for some animals to fatten for your freezer. This is another reminder that our local farm to fork processing infrastructure needs some serious rethinking if we’re going to be able to support a environmentally and financially sustainable local food supply, something we feel very strongly about!
Wool is Wonderful! You may have noticed that we’ve been developing a ‘wool project’ here on the farm. We’ve been thinking about it, and mulling it over, and discussing it for some time, but now it’s ALL SYSTEMS GO. Highland Wool CIC was formed last summer to support a sustainable wool industry in Scotland, and the first BIG project will be renovating our 200-year old stone barn and … building a micro-mill! But in the meantime, you can read more about it AND the upcoming PILOT PROJECT here.
…and now you know why I don’t write more often: once I start, I can’t stop! But I will, for now, with just this last thought: so many of us came out of the worst of the pandemic saying to ourselves ‘okay, time to get back to normal’. We didn’t give ourselves time to heal, just jumped back in, then wondered why we’re still feeling overwhelmed! If that sounds like you, please don’t be hard on yourself – it’s been a crazy difficult few years for all of us, and it’s not looking to get any easier any time soon. Reach out, talk to someone, there’s NO shame in asking for help. Here’s just one resource, which may help. And once we get a bit further into the year, maybe we can open our gates for visitors, so you can come here, meet the sheep, our old Toddy dog – and the humongous pigs! – sit in the woods, and detox a bit. Remember, we’re all in this together, and together is how we’ll get through it! Love to you all from all of us. XXX