Harvest, herbal leys and beer

11 September 2017

With the end of August now passed and most crops safely gathered, we can now reflect and analyse the results. One of the earliest harvests I have known, brought on by the exceptionally dry spring and wet June and July. These seasonal variations Mother Nature brings remind us as farmers, that we only harvest sunshine. Yields are lower than last year’s bumper harvest but remain reasonable with quality being saved by some late nights and quick thinking from the team.
Only the organic beans are left to harvest and they will need frost to help naturally ripen before becoming winter protein for the young cattle and ewes before next lambing.

We entered our second year of Organic Conversion on a large proportion of the farm in June and have learned a considerable amount in this time. Rather than the expected fall in grass production and crop yields, we have seen no real change. Running both the conventional and organic systems does make you question many of the things we have been doing for the benefit of yield. Further expansion of the organic area farmed has seen the incorporation of Wester Grangemuir and Knights Ward farm both joining the conversion process.

Sowing new grass fields with herbal leys, undersown into the spring barley, we are hoping that the variety of grass species available to the livestock will reduce supplementary mineral requirement and add to the flavour of the meat. By varying the rooting depth of the plants, minerals become available from different depths of soil and the soil structure improved.

Next years cropping plan is now in place and sowing has begun with Oilseed Rape planted directly into the stubbles and Red Clover sown after some cereals to improve soil structure.

The second Bowhouse Food Weekend is due to take place on 23rd and 24th September, with increased area, more stallholders, our own meat and live music adding to the mix. We are also busy extending the car park to enable the volume of cars we experienced to park with less mud!

A new venture for Bowhouse sees the installation of a microbrewery, which is being established by East Neuk Organics. Producing beer from organic barley and hops we hope to be a significant contributor and taster.

Building work at the West Lodge renovation is continuing at a fantastic pace and we hope the new extension will be wind- and water-tight by the end of the month. Another beautiful listed building will be modernised to make it comfortable, warm and light for the next 250 years.

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