FARMER FOCUS: Harvest finally over

As the met office gives an amber warning of floods, we are breathing a sigh of relief that, between showers yesterday, our maize was completed and is now safely in the pit. This completes our harvest of 2013.

Following our local harvest festival, discussions continued in the pub, conveniently adjacent to the church, reminiscing about the problems we had in 2012.

The winter wheat which we were unable to plant last year, was planted this autumn and thankfully germination was good and it is looking well. Green crop is also looking good with the stubble turnips now over my knees. This is going to be a godsend for the in-lamb ewes, especially with the harsh winter ahead that’s been forecast.

Our historic cider house is once again smelling of apples with 3t being stored ready for cider making next week. Mouthwatering smells have also been coming from our kitchen as the hedgerow harvest has resulted in copious amounts of preserves and alcohols being made to see us through the next few months. With the bountiful supplies of wild fruits, you can understand why it is important to leave some hedgerows uncut to provide the birds with feed.

Using simple, seasonal ingredients, it’s easy to make nutritious, delicious food a on a low budget. I gave a talk recently to a group of year 10 students who were due to take part in a school’s cookery competition at the local food festival.

After discussing the advantages of buying local I was thrilled to see them win the competition using local Welsh lamb as the main ingredient. Education is key and we need to continue to bang the drum for our produce.

We have decided to sell our suckler cows for numerous reasons, including the high cost of overwintering and health and safety issues, particularly during TB testing. The first cows were sold this week with calves at foot at Hereford market and they made a good price. Although mixed emotions, we haven’t got too much time to dwell, as 40 British Blue cross calves have now been purchased for bucket rearing.

Kate Beavan farms 200ha alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The main enterprises comprise 900 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Meat is sold direct to the family’s traditional butchers shop. Kate and Jim hosted the first series of Lambing Live in 2010

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