My sister has already said we are Jimmy's Farm UK Sausage Producer of 2009, beating off competition from around the country. It has definitely been a combination of our slow reared pigs and our butcher's quality sausage-making that has brought us to this point.
It was no plain sailing, with it being the first event we have ever cooked at there were but a few minor hiccups (not least learning how to work well under pressure with my wife, Annabel). Having arrived and met the extremely friendly staff at Jimmy's Farm we set up our stall and fired up the grill. Then boy-o-boy did I have my BBQ skills put to the test. I have never cooked so many sausages in a six hour period before, or so I thought on Saturday night. Saturday evening was spent cleaning, cooking yet more onions and what we thought would be preparing for Sunday but nothing could have got us ready for our award-winning rush!
They held the competition around lunch time which was slightly unfortunate as I was so flustered with cooking so many sausages I literally went up, shook everyones hand, accepted the cup and tottered off to man the grill, completely forgetting the Oscar style speech I had optimistically thought of doing if I won.
With the publicity from the event and having looked at our stall set up in relation to others, I definitely need to tap my sister for some better branding, so hopefully you will see a business card and website soon!
All in all except for being completely exhausted we had the best weekend in the time I have been working on the farm, and I hope it is the first of many awards and good weekends! We'd like to say a BIG thank you to Jimmy's Farm for all their support.
If there is anyone out there that wants to buy our sausages but would like to try them first I can suggest paying a visit to The Pheasant Pub in Gestingthorpe, Essex who have been championing our sausages from the beginning. They have a very relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, good beer and great sausages on the menu - there are not many places better for a night out with friends.
So, the combine is busy and all the tractors are racing about the lanes. With a couple of near misses in the car I can assure you it pays to drive carefully at this time of year!!!
For me this time of year is all about preparation for the coming winter months. I have needed to wait till the harvest to spread my rather large muck heap and then commence with clearing the yards of yet more muck!!! O the life of a farmer it either mud or poo and sometimes muddy poo!
Straight after the harvest the bailing commences. We will have over 200 large round bails to move and only a trailer with the capacity to hold four at a time, so this is when I am grateful for the long hours of sunlight.
Fortunately I have already collected most of my wood for the winter. If last year is anything to go by I probably only have two thirds of what I need to last the winter - with three thousand logs cut and stored I think scavenging is going to be the name of the game for the last fifteen hundred.
Having said goodbye to both of our breeding Saddleback boars, Christopher and Broadband, we are now down to only one pig of breeding size, Taloola, the Tamworth sow. Fortunately I have just managed to procure Geoffrey, a Tamworth Boar!
At last we are going to be breeding straight Tamworths. This means we are going to be able to sell them at weener stage (ie straight off the tit!) to other breeders and people looking to fatten up their own pig for slaughter. Geoffrey unfortunately is only 3 months old so it is going to be a bit of time before he is of a large enough size to mate. The reason for me getting a young piglet is so I know how well he is handled while he is growing up. He'll become comfortable in his surroundings but most importantly he'll become comfortable with me - as there is not much worse than having an aggressive boar to work with.
While we will be breeding the Tamworths, I also aim to keep one of Taloola's last litter with Christopher. With his exceptionally long back and calm temperament it seems a shame to lose his blood line and his team did produce incredibly tasty pork!
So we have Bantams and Ducks. We have had them now for about two months. Unfortunately we lost Mr Scruff and a quacker to the dastardly fox so we are calling in the back up and getting ourselves a couple of Guinea Fowl and a couple of battery hens. The hens are expected to lay around an egg a day. The Guinea Fowl are great at setting up an alarm call if they see anything untoward and have been known to charge at a fox squawking their heads off till the fox runs away!!!
Of the Bantams we have for some reason got three cockerels and four hens. They are all fluffy footed and extremely fun to watch. I have never managed to keep them in a run as they seem to be great escape artists. It is however very nice to have them roaming round the lawns, currently they have discovered the pig pens and are having great time making dust baths.
Due to the extreme price of chicken houses I decided to make my own out of the remains of a pig arc. It works exceptionally well because the top is detachable so you don't have to climb around inside to clean it! and thankfully cost next to nothing. Now I'm off to shut them up for the night. Jim
some fields, Essex, East Anglia, UK, United Kingdom
We run a small rare breed farm in rural Essex and blog about life on the farm & anything that takes our fancy.
We sell fresh and frozen beef, pork, mutton and lamb. If you'd like to try our delicious meats please contact us at spayneshallfarmmeats*at*gmail.com and we'll send you a price list.
James and Annabel D-H