As I sit writing this blog, I’m struggling to believe that it’s been a whole year since I last updated you with life at Butterbox Farm! It was March 2020 and we’d just entered lockdown (part 1!) what a surreal month that was. I fully intended to update you with the goings on at Butterbox monthly, but, as for so many, life had other ideas and 2020 disappeared in a blur of animals, kids and covid news!
When I wrote our last blog, we’d started lambing on the farm and the distinct lack of visitors and subsequent lack of baked and edible goodies had my husband Gavin and our farm manager Peter sulking and feigning famished exhaustion in the corner of the lambing shed. Our baby, William, was just six months old and I was still able to strap him to my front in the baby sling and head out for lovely long walks on the farm whilst Gavin worked those long hours. The lambs came thick and fast and as the sun shone and the days stretched out, we were pretty content in our lockdown farm bubble. Soon into the lockdown, local businesses started offering takeaway cakes and afternoon teas, which I can honestly say probably saved morale over lambing time!
It was tranquil and relaxing. I wrote a long list of chores that I wanted to achieve in the extra time spent at home; deep cleaning, sorting bags of clothes for charity, tidying up the garden and cleaning out the drawers that Gavin empties his pockets into at the end of each week. Surely we wouldn’t need these old screws, keyless padlocks, broken sheep ear tags, Allen keys and baling twine? Is ‘saving’ these pocket treasures a man thing or a farmer thing?!
Finally, on my list was to write the farm blog, a regular and fun update for all of our friends and family about what we do each month on Butterbox Farm… ‘Won’t I be productive’, I thought as lockdown loomed ahead.
The best laid plans and all that…Two weeks into lockdown, William learnt to crawl! My sweet little baby who’d cooed and gurgled quietly from the spot that I’d left him in (boy, did I take that for granted) was suddenly mobile! And so began an entirely different lockdown experience.
Before long he’d crawled out of our house and across our driveway in hot pursuit of the tractor (still a favourite hobby of his, except now he can army crawl, run and use his ninja skills to escape and chase it). He began beating our aged and once tolerant Terrier with any object that he could fashion into a weapon. He cleared my entire spice rack of spices, ate a large handful of Cardamon Pods and fed said Terrier a jar of Chinese 5 Spice. This did actually temporarily bolster their relationship, built some trust and also made a rather exotic improvement to her otherwise rancid breath.
The moment of realisation really hit when William began grabbing the screws, padlocks and other farm treasures aggressively from me as I attempted to clear another of Gavs kitchen drawer stashes. As he waved the dangerous and not child-proof items proudly above his head I grabbed the whole lot, shoved it all back in the drawer and decided perhaps it was best left there after-all. I promptly chucked my ‘lockdown To-Do’ list away.
I must admit, last week, whilst attempting to put together a toddler scooter I practically jumped for joy when I found a tiny Allen key buried in one of the drawers…. Don’t tell Gavin!
A year on and we have a walking, shouting, trouble making toddler and we’re having more fun than I’d ever imagined!
On the farm we’ve had a really exciting year. We sold our herd of Sussex Cattle, which was a hard decision but we really wanted to embrace growing our herd of Dexters. We wanted to focus solely on selling directly to our local community, reducing food miles and engaging our customers with where their food has come from and ensuring that it has been sustainably produced. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to purchase some fantastic breeding stock to increase our herd, and this year we are putting more Dexters to the bull than we have ever done before. This is really exciting for us as we are really passionate about our little Dexters, supporting rarebreeds and producing high quality, all grass-fed meat which doesn’t have to have a compromising effect on our planet!
We have been calving the past few months, and welcomed lots of new Dexters to the farm. It won’t be long before they really get to stretch their legs and we will be opening up the barn doors for turn out. Just waiting for some sunshine to dry up the farm and grow some more grass and we will be out for the summer which is exciting. Those of you that walk our footpaths will know that it has been pretty muddy of late! Lambing prep is well underway, the shed is clear and ready for some new arrivals, and our flock have been scanned and grouped accordingly. We bring our ewes that are expecting twins and triplets (we also had one quin scanned!) indoors early so that we can give them some extra feed to support them before lambing.
Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions it is looking like we will be unable to welcome visitors to the lambing shed again this year, however we have so enjoyed meeting and befriending new customers the past year when they have collected their meat boxes and it has been great to be able to get to you know you all, albeit from a distance!
We love meeting you all and we are always so pleased to introduce our livestock and show you what we do. In today’s society, it is so easy to become disconnected from the food that we eat and it’s source and see connecting with our customers to inform them of our farming practices, a really important part of our job. Moving forward, we really look forward to increasing our stock and being able to supply more of our community and hopefully as we ease out of lockdown we will be able to welcome more families to arrange to visit us and learn where their beef and lamb comes from!
Meat box collection day, when you collect your beef and lamb is one of our highlights of the month so thank you so much for all your support.
So here we are again, March is just a few weeks away and we are gearing up for lambing again! Excitingly, William has discovered the joy of ‘helping’ Daddy on the farm! ‘Tractors, dig-digs, baa-baas, moos and Peeeete’ are just a few of the delights that he sees while he’s out and about. So here I am, enjoying an unheard of ‘hot’ coffee at 9am in the peace and quiet and finally, I’m able to write another blog! It’s Gavin’s turn now to marvel at how fast his little legs can carry him, how quickly he can find the most dangerous tools and eat the most disgusting things all while your back is turned for less than a minute!
Now, my favourite part of the day is watching the boys get their boiler suits and boots on every morning to head off to check the cattle and the sheep, the ultimate farming dream team… I don’t want to sound overly optimistic but with this new found child-free time perhaps I can get our kitchen drawers emptied of the screws, padlocks, string and Allen keys before William is old enough to start coming home and contributing with his own pocket clutter!
Wishing you all a safe and happy Spring, and I look forward to writing a full report of our lambing adventures this year as no doubt William will be busy working away in the lambing shed and I may get plenty of chances to sit, drink hot coffee and write!
Take care and stay safe,