Category Archives: Cows

24Hrs in Farming #Farm24

For the last few years herds of dairy farmers, flocks of shepherds and a whole coven of farmers wives have  Twitted, Blogged Inrtagramed and Facebooked about a whole 24 hrs of farming showing what they are all getting up to.

Today 9th August 2018 is this years #Farm24 day. What are we all doing this year?

Well for a start 2018 is turning out to be one of the most challenging years for decades in farmings never ending battle with the weather.  Following the wettest coldest spring in living memory, we jumped straight into the longest hottest dry spell ever. Some say farmers are never happy with the weather and there is a good reason for that. Every sector of agriculture needs different weather to the next,

From snow
From snow

Dairy farmers like a cold crisp winter to help keep animals health in the sheds as warm muggy damp conditions are only good for the spread disease such as pneumonia, but they like it to dry up in spring so the cows can get out to grass as early as possible, then they like a steady supply of rain in small doses with good sunshine to keep the grass growing all year.

Sheep farmers don’t like very cold snowy winters as the sheep live out doors and can get buried in snowdrifts and have difficulty accessing water if the pipes all freeze. Then they want a warm dry spring for lambing and a summer without too much sun and heat, and muggy thundery weather is a real bummer as this brings with it more cases of fly strike which I won’t horrify you with the details but its a very nasty thing to happen to a sheeps bottom!

to heat wave

Arable farmers like good snow in the Alps for their skiing holidays and warm beaches in the early summer for their beach holiday (only joking!!) but they need a wet warm spring to bring the good yields and to help swell the grain they then need a good long dry spell with strong sunshine to ripen the grain and let them harvest it all as dry as possible, moving on quickly to ploughing, re planting just before their next holiday!

The weather has played havoc with feed stocks already. Crop are yielding much lower and livestock are already munching their way through the winter feed as the the grass just stopped growing weeks ago. This has forced many beef and sheep farmers to sell stock early at lighter weights and as so many more are coming to the market prices have slumped so income from stock sales will be hit very hard and could be as much as 30% down.

Many farmers like ourselves have diversified into other activities and some of these demand different weather again. For us in tourism this year has been great as our guests have basked in Mediterranean heat with wall to wall sunshine. But spare us a thought on changeover days, running up and down that hill in 30 + degrees getting ready for the next guests, one constant job is checking the quality of the Ice cream sold in the shop. I need to sample a pot every few hours personally just to be sure!

So why not log on to all your social media today and see first hand what your farmers are upto.

Here are a few bits from us!

David

#Farm24 #Farmstayuk

A lot of time is spent in the office
working very hard!
Unloading lorry loads of straw by hand – better than going to the gym!
Checking on the sheep, who seem to have the right idea
Lovely weather to be a baby calf
The jobs are wide and varied, from PR to cleaning the bogs!

 

Will you marry me? Ice cream yes!!

If you love to shop you’re in for a surprise!

After a long wait our new little on site shop is now open for business, situated next to our new reception near the farmhouse. We are proud to stock some fabulous #LoveLocal Peak District goodies, including Coldeaton Ice Cream. Over the next few posts we will be highlighting some of our amazing artisan suppliers.

Todays featured artisan product is Coldeaton Jersey Ice Cream made locally on a farm near Ashbourne. The Peak District isn’t the seaside, but who can resist ice cream when you’re on holiday and the sun is shining?

Jersey cows

As farmers ourselves we have known the Stubbs family for generations and Jo Stubbs (sorry – now Burrows!) and husband Alex, produce the most amazing ice cream churned from milk from their own prize winning herd of Jersey cows.

Coldeaton Ice CreamWe stock a wide range of flavors, my favourite is the white chocolate and raspberry, where as Felicity is a mint choc chip girl. Other popular flavours are the chocolate indulgence and you can’t beat the plain Just Jersey Gold. Sold in handy 120ml pots with its own little spoon, perfect for a little treat any time of the day!

Jo, Alex and family are well known in the farming world as their pedigree Jersey cows win many major prizes at local agricultural shows. However in 2015 they hit the national press when Alex proposed in a very romantic and unusual way!

Jersey cow proposalAlex made a red blanket for their prize winning Jersey cow with the words “Will you marry me?”on one side, so when the Champion cow came into the show ring for the Grand Parade everyone could see, before he dropped down on one knee to officially propose in front of the huge crowd. This fabulous photo was captured by Ruth Downing of Rural Pictures.

It’s one of the most unusual proposals I have heard of and luckily Jo said YES! The couple now apply as much passion to making their delicious ice cream. Why not try some when you come to stay?

Hoe Grange shop What’s in the Shop

In the shop we currently stock Peak District Dairy milk, butter, and cream in the fridge. From the freezer Coldeaton Jersey ice cream, bacon, sausage, burgers, black pudding and Derbyshire Oatcakes, all frozen in handy pack sizes. Some basics including ground coffee, porridge pots, rapeseed oils and our own eggs when the girls are laying.

You might also like to buy a small present or two to take home with you from our selection of crafts, cards and watercolour prints. We are always on the lookout for other things to add to our stock, and would love to hear if you have any suggestions of things you think we should add.

There’s only one problem with stocking such scrumptious ice cream in the shop – we keep eating it!

David

Saving water in a sizzling summer

Farming always has its ups and downs but this year has been particularly challenging. The winter snows were severe with the Beast from the East which meant a late spring, followed on by the current heatwave which is causing havoc with the harvests.

cows and sheepSunshine and heat is wonderful for our holiday guests staying in our log cabins and glamping pods, but not so great for the farm animals. June 2018 has been the driest on record. I can’t recall when I last saw the farm fields so brown and the grass is so dry it scrunches underneath your feet.

Making hay while the sun shines

hay making We usually make silage for winter forage for the cows and sheep and around 900 small bales of hay.  Hay making was interesting as the cut grass was so light and dry that half of it blew away! Whilst the sizzling sunshine has produced excellent quality hay, the excessive dry weather has meant the quantity is about half the usual yield at just 430 bales.

We are not alone and there will be a shortage of winter feed, compounded by the fact that farmers are having to feed their cattle and sheep now in midsummer as there is so little grass growing. It also means reduced income as the price of lamb has fallen due to an increase in supply as many farmers are having to sell their lambs early due to the lack of feed.

1967 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor
1967 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor

Whilst the scorching heat continues here in the Peak District with temperatures over 30 degrees we carry on farming with animal well fare a top priority.

Mike wrestles with a sheep

The sheep have been shorn and shed their winter woolly jumpers and we are keeping a special eye on the troughs to make sure the cattle have sufficient water to drink.

We also have a new member of the team. This week also saw the arrival of Havenfield Lotus, a new pedigree Hereford bull, who seemed right at home with his new ladies!

Use water wisely

water glas by RawpixelDid you know that only 3% of the world’s water is fresh and less than 1% of this fresh water is available for human use? The rest being frozen or located too deep within the earth for us to reach it.

Our Derbyshire ancestors have always celebrated the importance of fresh water by dressing the village wells and giving thanks.

Saving water is always important, but especially so whilst the sizzling summer continues.

Top ten tips for saving water
  1. When you wash your dishes by hand, remember to turn the tap off in-between rinsing. And don’t rinse dishes before you put them in a dishwasher – that’s what the machine is designed to do – just scrape all the excess food off the dishes and let the machine do the rest.
  2. Stop! Before pulling the plug out the kitchen sink, use the washing up water to rinse out bottles, food cartons and cans before putting them in the recycle bin.
  3. Switch off the tap whilst brushing your teeth – you can waste at least half a pint of water per minute if you leave the tap on!
  4. Keeping a large bottle of tap water in the fridge ensures you can have chilled water all the time. Waiting for the tap to run cold can waste more than 10 litres of water a day.
  5. A shower uses 2/3 the amount of water as a bath – keep it short and turn off the shower head while soaping! Every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water .
  6. Switch to an efficient shower head which will allow you to lather up in less water
  7. Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than 2 half-loads
  8. Modern dual-flush systems save huge amounts of water. They use just 6 litres – or 4 with a reduced flush – much less than the 13 litres for each old-style single flush.
  9. Or fit your toilet with a ‘hippo’, a bag (available free from your water company, usually) that could help you save up to 3.5 litres of water per flush.
  10. Drive round in a dirty car – you don’t need to wash it every week! A hose with the tap turned on full can use up to 320 litres of water in half an hour!

We hope you found our top ten water saving tips useful and would love to hear if you have some more ideas to share.

Felicity 

TB, or not TB, that is the question!

A few days ago our herd of suckler cows underwent its annual routine TB (Bovine Tuberculosis) test. This is an anxious time for any livestock farmer, as it can have devastating consequenses.

The TB test involved shaving two small sites on the cows neck, then measuring and recording the skin thickness at both sites.The vet then injects tiny amounts of deactivated TB virus of 2 types, 1 is bovine TB and the other is Avian TB.

download

The cows are then left for 72 hours and the skin in the 2 sites is measured again. If there is a thickening of the skin greater on the bottom site (bovine TB) by a specified amount, then this is a positive reaction, which is not good news!Skin measuring

 

Finding Tuberculosis present, even in just one cow has massive implications on the next year or more of our farming practices, let alone our income!

A positive reactor cow is taken away and slaughtered and a full examination of the lungs is made post mortem to confirm the infection is present. The farm is immediately placed under movement restriction, which  means that no cattle may leave the farm unless going direct to slaughter. These restrictions are the same if you have one reactor or 100! Some local farms have lost 50 or more cows in one test, which is soul destroying when your whole life is dedicated to raising and caring for your herd.

If a farm has a positive test then all animals have to be retested every 60 days until 2 clear tests have been achieved, only then are cattle movement restrictions lifted. These extra tests place great strain on both man and beast; there is always a high risk of another failure, and the cows get to know what is coming and don’t like to cooperate!

A great deal is said in the press by all sides about the cause of the spread of TB from wildlife and the possible control of such. Each person must make up their own mind as to the facts and I will not get into that debate here.

Fortunately our test last week was clear, with no cows reacting so our business can carry on as usual. When we sell stock to another farm it must have been tested for TB in the 60 days prior to moving house. Sometimes this means an extra test for any cattle we need to sell, but we usually take advantage of a regular clear test result to  sell our stock.IMG_1459

In June 2015 we bought our pedigree bull, Gawsworth Phil 28th, to be the new husband to our ladies (if you know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink!) He has done his job wonderfully well since then, but as time passes his daughters are now old enough to enter the herd as breeding animals.

This means Phil has to go (while we have a clear test window). We will miss him as he has been a well mannered chap who has produced some lovely calves. Fear not, he hasn’t gone to the great pie factory in the sky, but has moved on to a whole new herd of ladies!

beef cow Over the 3 years here he has fathered around 75 calves, many of which can be seen in the fields around the farm, and there are another 20 or so are still to be born this spring.

Shortly I will start looking for a new husband for my ladies, but not until July as a cow is pregnant for just over 9 months and we don’t want any calves born until April when the grass is growing again.

Watch this post for news of the new bull later in the year, as well as the calves when they start arriving in April.

David

#Farm24 – What’s it all about?

What is #Farm24?

#Farm24 is our chance to showcase 24 hours of farming in the UK, from 5am this morning on August 10 until 5am on August 11 2017. By encouraging farmers to share what they are doing throughout the day with a live feed of pictures, videos, Facebook posts and Tweets the British people will have a greater understanding of how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.

#Farm24

Pleased to report that #farm24 is now trending on Twitter so hopefully our message is getting across! It gives a rare and honest, ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight of what goes into producing British food and a chance to celebrate the achievements of farmers from all sectors of British agriculture.

From our perspective

#Farm24 offers an opportunity to share our story with the wider public and raise awareness of the care and attention we take to raise our beef cattle and sheep and farm our Peak District landscape sustainably, harnessing the latest technology. We have a policy of #loveLocal and are delighted to share our special place with our holiday guests too.

cow
she must be ready to drop her calf?

Here at Hoe Grange Farm we have been taking part in #Farm24 and recording some of the farming activities David has got up to today; from the early morning cockerel alarm clock, to , checking stock, calving a cow, pasture topping and repairing the many dry stone walls. There is always plenty to do and people often forget that maintaining the landscape is as important as caring for the animals.

Tractor pasture toppingFarming has never been considered an easy option; each day is different and you are at the mercy of the weather, seasons and needs of livestock, and the hours are long. Farming is a way of life which shapes the countryside, sustains rural communities and produces essential food for all.

solar panels and hensAt Hoe Grange we also harness the natural resources around us by using renewable technologies, including solar panels that track the sun, and a wind turbine to generate electricity. Modern farming is a business like any other that has to minimise overheads and reduce costs to remain competitive.

Welcome packWhilst farmer David is busy with the animals, farmer’s wife Felicity takes care of the holiday business, cleaning the log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods, baking biscuits, greeting guests and suggesting fabulous local places to visit, not to forget Tweeting along with the outside world! Hopefully everyone goes home with happy memories and a little wiser about modern farming.

Check us out on Twitter #Farm24 to see what we got up to today!

Felicity

A day out at Bakewell Market

To market, to market to buy a fat pig, home again from Bakewell market, jiggety-jig!

cows with calfOur holiday guests love to see the calves running around the farm fields with their mothers in the Spring, but let’s not forget the farm animals are here for a reason. Ours is a beef herd and the calves grow up to be 500kg of glorious Derbyshire prime beef.

As the “suckler” cows graze freely in open fields we sell our young animals at about 16 -20 months old before they are fully grown. They then go onto specialist finishing units who feed them up and put the meat on them ready for slaughter. This is the most cost effective way for us to farm in the Derbyshire hills as it is too rocky and high up to grow corn or other fodder crops.

Selling cows at Market

Our animals are sold at auction in Bakewell Market just 9 miles down the road. The livestock market was redeveloped in the late 1990’s and is now one of England’s largest. Incredibly the market dates back earlier than 1330, at which time the people of Bakewell claimed to have had a market from time immemorial!

Bakewell town’s name comes from Badecanwylla, mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, which can be translated as Badeca’s Well after the town’s springs and an Anglo-Saxon chieftain.

To slim down our herd so we have fewer cattle to keep over the winter we recently sold 10 youngsters in one sale and 10 more a couple of weeks later. The cows get sorted into small groups of matching sizes so they stay with their friends, which is less stressful. The price the purchaser bids is per head, and as an inducement to attract the best price it is traditional to offer a little luck money with the cattle – which is why you can see me waving money about!

Watching the auction is fascinating and Bakewell Market is open to the public so you can also go in and watch the action. But be careful to keep your hands still and don’t catch the auctioneers eye, or you may be going home with a pet cow or two!

A day out in Bakewell

Bakewell also has a thriving outdoor market with stalls selling everything from locally grown fruit and veg to socks, sweets and exotic Indian foods. A trip to Bakewell makes an excellent day out for the whole family, as there are also lots of independent shops and cafes. Don’t forget to try the famous Bakewell pudding, the recipe for which dates back to at least 1837.

Before you leave wander down to the river to see the famous five-arched bridge across the River Wye, which is one of the best-known landmarks in the Peak District. It dates from around 1200, is among the oldest in the country, and now designated as an Ancient Monument. Contrast this with the new bridge which links the town centre and the livestock market, and here you can see a strange phenomena going on!

Bridge at Bakewell marketA few years ago couples started to fasten engraved padlocks to the bridge, now there are hundreds of all shapes and sizes – I wonder how may of theses couples are still locked together??

If you want to add your own lock there is an enterprising stall holder in the market who will sell you a lock and even engrave it for you.

David

My, how they’ve grown!

Spring has given way to Summer and we thought you might like to see just how much our farm animals have grown in such a short space of time!

Our little Golden Top Bantum dutifully sat on some eggs for 21 days without a break and was rewarded by 3 of the 5 eggs hatchbaby chick hatchinging – one with a little help from David!

Just seconds old with wet feathers – but mother hen soon warms the chick beneath her fluffy feathers and hey presto all three chicks look all cute and fluffy just a day later!

baby chicks

The chicks are now just 6 weeks old and look at the difference in size!

growing chicksThe newborn lambs back in April  looked like their skins where too big for their bodies, but they have certainly filled out!

Lambcollage

The suckler cows have also been nurturing their calves, and now have the attention of Phil the bull so next years calves should be on their way… and so the circle of life continues!

cows and calves

Always something to see down on the farm!

Felicity

#Farm24

On the 20th August 2015 hundreds of British farmers recorded their day with video and photographs to help the general public understand how wide and varied the work of a British farmer is.

What were we up to at Hoe Grange that day?

Take a look at our #farm24 and see!


Checking all are present and correct……


and all are with their mummies….


even if their mummies are not really their mummies.


Time then for a little tractor work, mowing off the overgrown grass so fresh grass can grow in its place.

Keep calm and canter onNot forgetting to look after our guests as well, pointing out the best rides.

See the nationwide effort of our dedicated farmers recorded for #farm24 through The Farmers Guardian. Alternatively, find out more about our very own Peak District farm here.

David

Living the green dream

David and I are feeling like celebrities as we have been featured in The Derbyshire magazine as part of their “At home with” series – two double page spreads with glossy photos explaining how the decision to diversify our original farming business with the addition of self-catering log cabins has led to the creation of one of the top 20 green tourism businesses in the UK.

It was exciting being interviewed and David was able to explain that building log cabins was originally an idea his father had over 50 years ago, but he was refused planning permission at the time as tourism in The Peak District was unheard of! I am sure he would be very proud of what we have achieved if he was alive today. Offering self catering holidays alongside the traditional beef and sheep farm helps to sustain both businesses as they complement each other well.

pv solar panels and wind turbine
Renewable technologies help to reduce the carbon footprint at Hoe Grange

The photo shoot was fun too – as the dogs are very popular with guests we tried to get the two Labradors, Twix and Crunchie, together with Fudge the Jack Russell to pose, but it was hopeless as there was always one of them running off or misbehaving! Nevermind we did manage to get the pigs and horses in the background.

The article was also featured in The Derby Telegraph – we hope you enjoy reading a little more about our background and achievements.

Whatever next? Maybe Hello or OK?

Felicity

Bye Bye Belties

Following our recent clear TB test we have now started to sell some of the beef animals. The first to go were some of our Belted Galloways who are about 18 months old. Having never sold any of this breed before I was a little unsure of the price to expect at market.

The recent horse meat scandal has made a positive impact on the live trade in beef animals as more and more people realise what we have known for years – that local British beef is the best and the more local the better. In the Peak District many of the independent high street butchers buy their beef at local livestock markets or direct from the farm, therefore knowing exactly where it has come from and the reputation of the farmers involved.

It was with great intrepidation that I took four of the Belties, plus one Limousin, to market last week. As prices were on the up I hoped to get around £750 – £800 each for them –  watch the video to see how we got on!

You will see that during the sale I offer a little “luck money” to the buyers as a little incentive to bid again, generally around £2 to £5 per animal – just one of farmings strange old fashioned traditions.

This week we took some of the Aberdeen Angus cattle and prices were even better, reaching a top price of £1160 for one, £1040 for another and £960 each for 3 Heifers. Another good day at the office.

Next time you come to stay in the Peak District why not take a trip to Bakewell on a Monday, you can go into the market and watch the animal sales for yourself. They even have excellent wheelchair access with a lift up to the public viewing area for our less abled guests.

It’s fascinating, but I challenge you to follow exactly what the auctioneer is saying – and remember to keep your hands still or you may go home with more than a Bakewell Pudding!

Don’t worry we haven’t sold everything, there will be new calves born at Hoe Grange very soon! Plenty to see on your farm holiday.

David