It’s the middle of January already – yikes! We hope you had a good Christmas and a positive start to 2019. We have been quiet on social media recently, but things have been very busy behind the scenes so this is a quick update to let you know what’s been happening.
We finally finished autumn calving… slightly later than usual, in fact we still had calves arriving on the farm over Christmas. As you may know if you’ve been following the development of our farm for a few years, keeping calves indoors with their mums over winter has always been the most challenging part of our farming model. The reason for that is, just like a school or an aeroplane, any enclosed area with a lot of mammals breathing and sharing space can make it easy for bugs and infections to spread. Young calves, with their under developed immune systems, can be prone to picking up these bugs in the winter, in a way that they’re not when they’re out in the fields.
Over the past few years we’ve learned a great deal about how to manage the herd to reduce the incidence of illness, and we have been successful in steadily reducing infections, in calves as well as the cows. This winter we have seen a further drop, a very dramatic one, which we are delighted about. We’ll do a longer blog post on this, probably once winter is over, but it’s an interesting development. Is it due to ongoing reduction in stress because the cows trust us more? Is it due to the probiotic regime we’ve introduced? Or is it simply because of the mild weather? Perhaps time will tell.
We are making good progress in getting the new cheese dairy ready, it will be a few months till we can move in but we are very pleased with how it’s coming together.
We promised we would try to make our retail packs of cheese more widely available across the UK. So this weekend we are starting on the first of our 2019 trade shows, where we’ll meet with wholesalers and independent retailers. Wilma is attending the Speciality and Fine Food Show in Glasgow, and that will be followed by trade events in Birmingham and Dublin to name just a few. Our attendance at these major trade shows is supported by funding we have received from the Dumfries and Galloway LEADER programme, which makes a huge difference to what we're able to do. We’re not likely to be found in a supermarket any time soon because we simply can’t make enough cheese for those kind of outlets, but during 2019 we hope to greatly increase the number of cheesemongers, delis, farm shops and independent retailers across the UK who stock our products.
We are still low on stock, as can be seen from our online shop. If you would like to order a cheese that isn’t listed as being available online, please give us a ring on 01557 814040. We do have small amounts of Tomme & Laganory, just not enough to list them on the website. Bluebell is sold out for the time being, but we plan to have a special, limited edition version of it ready for February.
The Ethical Farming Conference
We are spending a great deal of time right now speaking with people about the conference and we hope to announce some of our speakers very soon. What we can tell you is that following your very generous crowdfunding support for this event, the Scottish Government has matched your donations with a grant from Scotland’s Regional Food Fund. This means we now have a secure budget to invite overseas speakers and to plan for our small conference to be quite a bit bigger than we had at first anticipated. Much more news on this will be coming soon!
As ever, thank you for your interest in what we are doing here and for your support.