I sit and type this on another beautiful summers evening, with the Red Kites mewing above my head, I can't quiet believe it's August... and 12 weeks since we collected our first two calves. This week we collected our last three.
All has been well on the farm, after the very cold winter we all had, I thought nothing would ever grow again. But bam, a fantastic explosion of flowers, butterflies & insects. Our contractor friends have been frantic, hay has been made, silage clamped, harvest to start, and all made possible by the sun.
It has not been a smooth journey. We very sadly lost one calf, he had had a difficult birth and was compromised. We did all we could, but he was just not strong enough to pull through.
When you work with animals a bad day leaves you wondering why you chose this life, broken nights, painful decisions, battling to save an animal, only to watch them slip away in front of your eyes, you feel so utterly helpless....
But then another day dawns, and you are surrounded by strong, vivacious calves bunting you to get a move on with the milk bar, watching them gallop off like little racehorses ears flat back, tail up, running, racing each other, kicking up their heels, with not a care in the world. Then they curl up in the grass, exhausted by their excursions, to be guarded by the old cows, stood chewing the cud. I am reminded, This is why I chose this life.
Having learnt what we have over the last few weeks, and discussions with our vet and dairy farmer, we have decided to raise the calfs seasonally. So we'll take on a certain amount every spring, which will make the rose veal available for a few months from January. This means the calves are a few months old going into winter, as they are far more delicate than the beef breeds. It also means that you have to be quick to buy what we know will be the very best local free range rosé veal!
We expect the first veal to be available in mid October, with a more regular supply available from Jan '14 to May '14.
Finally, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response and support for what we are doing, it is just fantastic, thank you. If anyone has any questions I will do my best to answer them, you can also follow us on twitter via @nortonsfarm.
Best wishes, Lucy.