• Helen Wade

Looking to the year ahead

Well, it’s 2021 and the last year seems to have flown by.

We recognise how fortunate we are, being able to continue to work

during the crisis and being largely unaffected so far.

It’s mid-January and I’m finally in from the field for the day. After the

recent frosts and very hard ground, it’s all gone a bit mushy again!

Still, the pigs are happy – soft ground is easier to dig, and boy have

they dug!

Our beautiful clover-rich leys have been well and truly cultivated by

all the busy snouts we have here.

I have been surprised at how tired my legs are at the end of the day,

but we are on one of our more sloping fields at the moment, so

walking as we do each day to check every one of the 400 or so pigs

on the farm is going to be a bit tougher right now!

Currently the pigs cover two fields totaling 50 acres as we continually

move forwards on to fresh ground with each litter that is born - we

pick up fencing behind us as we go and 23 acres of this will be put

into a spring crop very soon (now it has been enriched with plenty of

piggy fertiliser!)

As we move off this field we will start on another field which has

been down to grass and clover with chicory and sainfoin ‘stitched in’

at a later date.

The pigs will be visible from the road again which is always nice. I

think most of the folk round here have got used to the idea that for

years the pigs ‘disappear’ as they travel round the fields at the back

of the farm. “Where have your pigs gone?” and “Have you sold all

your pigs?” used to be common questions when they were not

visible from the road. We could tell those who walked the footpaths

from those who only used the roads this way!

One of the highlights of January is always the Oxford Real Farming

Conference (the alternative to the OFC), which is more relevant to us

organic farmers and is more diverse. This year it was a virtual

conference of course, and although it meant we couldn’t ‘meet up’

with all the interesting people who are usually there, it did mean that

it was a more relaxed affair for us as we didn’t have to try and get all

the pig work done before we joined the rush hour traffic into Oxford!

Our very first batch of feed using our homegrown cereals is being

mixed next week, an exciting time but also rather nerve wracking as

we try it out.

I’ll let you know how we get on…

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