The mowers are going, Gavin’s rocking those T-shirt and shorts tan lines, and we sold out of our first month of BBQ boxes in June. It is officially summer on Butterbox Farm!
Summer is our favourite time of year on the farm. We LOVE having all of our cattle out grazing across the fields and being grass farmers, we enjoy making silage and hay. The weather this week is great for it, with the sun shining and we are effectively harvesting that sunshine when we grow and mow our grass. Our little boy William is a tractor fanatic (of course), so the big machinery turning up and working its way across the farm cutting and baling is beyond exciting!
The work load lightens up, as there is no bedding up and feeding in the barn, and we’ve finished lambing and calving. So now it’s routine stock checks, hauling bales back, and Pina Coladas on the patio. Maybe not quite, but there’s definitely a day or two like that across the summer months, well let’s hope!
Summer also means it’s time for us to take advantage of less work commitments and get away for a family holiday. And this one was our first trip away as a family of four! We opted for glamping in a pretty cool treehouse – built up into the trees on the hills of the Elan Valley in Wales. Our treehouse was set on a large sheep farm, because farmers love nothing more than escaping their own farm to holiday on someone else’s… What we didn’t realise was that we were literally living in the field of sheep, not too dissimilar to our set up at home. Within a day of being there, we had had lambs come racing up onto the decking to greet us in the hot tub, raid our brunch, knock over our game of giant Jenga and polish the sides of our car by having a good old itch up against it. If we didn’t spend enough time with the sheep in our treehouse, we definitely got well acquainted with them when we went exploring locally. We queued daily, waiting for the rural woolly traffic to amble across the main roads. We slammed the breaks on as lambs leapt from the roadside in front of our car, and even dodged the odd cow that was purposefully mooching up the main road. William gleefully demanded we stopped every time we saw a tractor mowing or baling a field – which was a lot. So a good break from the farm, but perhaps not a break from farms altogether…
Since coming home we have been busy making our own silage, which we bale for winter to feed for our Dexter cattle. This means that we don’t have to buy in any feed, and we are able to maintain their pasture only diet. Our Dexters have all calved now, so are out in various groups across the farm. At home we have little Huxley, our young bull, who is not so little anymore. We have rented or bought in our bulls in the past, but this time we bought in Huxley’s mother, in-calf with little Hux, by a bull unrelated to our own herd. She calved here and we have kept Hux ‘entire’ and have been growing him on ready to become the main man on the farm. This summer is his first working one! Which means that he has a small group of ladies to show him the ropes and keep him on his toes – quite literally! Hux can’t go out on the footpath so he is in a group near our house – some of you have met him already when you come to collect your boxes. He is very vocal now, bellowing loudly when people walk past the gate, probably shouting about how big is nose ring is. He throws his head down, leaps about and is generally acting the part perfectly. Time will tell if he has done the job properly, but he is certainly giving it his all!
In recent weeks we have also bought in some little boars to grow on to begin the Butterbox pork adventure. Winston (our breeding boy), and his pal Boris (company) are Saddlebacks, who are currently living the ultimate bachelor life up in the woods. They are exploring an extensive area, splashing in their pond, eating their way through the undergrowth and hurtling back every time they hear me clattering around with a feed bucket. The boys get some nuts every day to help them grow, and they also dig and root for bugs, and seem to be particularly partial to nettles. They are pretty remote in their new surroundings and I must admit that because of this I have not spent as much time with them as I have with the original group of 9 pigs that we have started with, who live at home. However, this is coming back to bite me, literally. Yesterday I went to feed Winston and Boris and was merrily chatting to a friend on my phone. Casually stood in the pen focused fully on my conversation, I was completely unaware of Boris, bored of waiting for his grub, lunging at my hand and giving it a good, hard chomp! This is the first time one of our pigs has properly bitten me, and I leapt across the pen so fast that I hurled myself into the electric fencing – another worse bite. So today I am spending a little extra time with them – giving them belly rubs, hanging out with them with no food involved, hoping that they will take a leaf out of the girl’s book and prefer a pat on the head over a wrestle and a biting match. This is especially crucial as when we collected them, the breeder allowed us to go in to meet her fully grown boar, aged 6 he stood as tall as my waist and was probably the length of my car. So if Winston chooses to not get along with us in the future, we will definitely come off worse! His companion Boris is spending the summer and winter with him until Winston is ready to join the girls. And then we will need to find him a new home, which some of you have already volunteered to help with..! Poor Boris – but the general consensus seems to be – he needs to leave.
The rest of the pigs leave the pen by our house this week, to move up to a big pen of their own in the woods. I am so excited to watch them clear it, and to be able to move them across the overgrown and unused areas of our woodland to restore it and allow them to improve the biodiversity by simply doing what pigs do best! Dolly and Rosie (pictured below), our girls for breeding will stay at home with us for the summer, but will head up to the woods once the others have left. This will give us a chance to rest our paddock at home over the Winter, and give the girls a change of scenery.
July also sees us selling our second round of BBQ boxes. This month the boxes will contain a mixture of our all grass fed Dexter beef and lamb (no Boris available for this summer unfortunately), and the boxes will be approx 5kg. Beef burgers, minted lamb burgers, beef koftes, lamb koftes, minted lamb chops and lamb chipolatas. We will also have our 5kg and 10kg mixed Dexter beef boxes available too!
I hope that you are having a wonderful start to your summer! And we will look forward to seeing you soon.
All the best,
Holly and the team at Butterbox