Libby has left the farm
Truro market is just like any other livestock market if a little further west than any of the other. A great little cafe where you can get a real cup of tea and enjoy the hum of farmers’ conversations as they wait for their cattle to be sold. The subjects of conversation are pretty similar world wide, the price of cattle, expensive feed, government interference where none is needed and or none where intervention would be welcomed. Or just simple social conversations as many traditional old school farmers get a chance to meet up, no Facebook here! So the most amazing thing was to discover that they have a WiFi hotspot!
Trenderway is here today to sell some stores (Cattle that someone else will buy and fatten), and to move Libby, our 8th cow off the farm. She is not exactly “special” which is not surprising as earlier his year she was identified as carrying Johnes Disease and we needed to isolate her and get her off the farm as quickly as possible. Johnes Is a major problem in cattle in the UK generally affecting weight gain and longevity and because of its nature can remain undetected unless it’s eradication is actively pursued.
Trenderway has been under the Herdsure Healthy Livestock program for a couple of years now, and have been testing clear of a series of key diseases, so it was a bit of a setback to have Libby testing positive.
This is where the harsh reality of the market takes over. Not only are prices slightly down at the moment, but being this far west our prices are generally below the average in the UK. Sale price barely covered the cost of the livestock haulier.
At lest this means that the income from the 5 stores will not have any additional costs attached.
During our recent business trip to Piedmonte in Italy we were introduced to Bepe Distefanis, who farms fruit and vineyards just outside Montelupo Albese. While it’s always fascinating to hear about the experiences of fellow farmers in other countries, Bepe’s story is especially inspiring, as having reduced his vineyards, he now grows a variety of fruit including apples, pears and persimmons (Sharon Fruit in UK stores or Cachi in Italian stores) and sells all his produce direct. He produces a really nice Apple juice and has started drying sliced fruit in a really clever machine built by his brother who utilised used car parts!
The best bit of advice he shared with us is the small item he is holding in his hand. Bepe casts hundreds of little concrete weights in disposable plastic cups and hangs them on fruit tree branches to encourage fruiting and optimal tree shape. He swears that this also improves fruitlet retention and counteracts biennial fruiting. We are looking forward to trying it ourselves
Like many small producers in Italy, he does not press or bottle his own juice, but utilises the services of his local cooperative. This model is used effectively throughout Italy. In the south there are Fratoio’s owned by small groups of Olive farmers that press and bottle their olive oil. In wine growing areas, the smaller producers club together and share pressing, winemaking and bottling facilities. They have worked out how to produce high quality in small batches and we are looking forward to emulating this principle at Trenderway in our apple juice production.
A year ago, together with other landowners bordering the road between Trelawne and Pelynt, we gave over land so that the parish could create a footpath into the village. The path was created last March, the work unfortunately involved the destruction of the flora growing on top of the hedge as this was moved a couple of metres or so into the field, thus creating safe footpath along the road. The contractors FJ Ede, did a lovely job reseeding and today the hedge is lush and green. However the top looked a little bare. This year Pelynt Parish Council very kindly allocated a small budget with which we purchased 200 hedgerow plants. These were planted just before Easter and given time they will look lovely.
Unfortunately, during the planting we cleaned a couple of black bin bags of rubbish out of both sides of the hedge, including a not insignificant number of glass bottles, some broken. Such a pity that those walking this path, and driving the road for that matter, do not consider the consequences of these actions. For them its “just” litter, but for us its a major and very real hazard as the field is grazed. Broken glass is a HUGE problem for livestock as lacerated hooves are a major problem and very hard to treat. Even more frightening is the possibility of glass, broken or otherwise, getting into their mouths, virtually impossible to remedy if it happens.
Lets just hope that this never happens, that the hedge grows quickly and prevents litter debris from unthinking individuals reaching the field.
Meanwhile here are some pictures of the new hedge.