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Update from the Hook & Son Farm

We’re now into November and despite the rain, the cows are still out grazing. Steve Hook, from Hook and Son, guides us through what’s been happening down at the farm….

The cow tracks and gateways to the fields are now a bit muddy, but the fields are still firm. As soon as the fields become too soft, the cows will come in for the winter. Keep them out too long, the fields become damaged as the cows’ hooves make holes in the field.

This is called ‘poaching.’ Poached fields have soil structure damage, do not drain well creating the opportunity for weeds to grow, and produce less grass the following year.

Cows are quite heavy, weighing approximately 600kg. It doesn’t take much for fields to become poached at this time of year.To put it in perspective, when a cow stands on your foot, you certainly know about it!

The really great news on the farm this month, is that we passed our annual TB test. I say we, really it was the cows and all our cattle over six months old that were given the all clear!

However, a nearby farm has had a reactor. The rules are that all farms within a 3km radius of a TB reactor are automatically put onto whole herd TB testing every six months, which means our cows will have to be tested again, probably in April.

We have now cleared out the old barn of all sorts of clutter, tools we haven’t seen for a while, boxes of old paperwork and discovering some bits of equipment we didn’t realise we had!

It’s lovely to be able to see the old barn itself again. It is the oldest building on the farm, probably more than 400 years old. Grandad used to tell us it had a smugglers tunnel underneath but we’ve never found it!

Next stage is to lay the drains and start building the cheese processing room. Hopefully in the new year, we will start to produce our own cheeses.

Production Manager Marco and cheesemaker Andrea are starting to experiment making different cheeses already with our milk. Initially we may be looking to produce a fresh cottage type cheese and a Brie style cheese.

How Covid 19 has affected our Farm
Initially, lockdown back in March had a big impact as we had to cancel our planned events such as Turn Out Day (the day when the cows go back out onto grass after having been indoors all winter) and our 10k extreme cross country run,The Mad Marsh Run. Both events normally attract hundreds of people to the farm.

In addition to this, at least half of the weekly farm- ers markets we do in London also stopped operating, which severely hit our weekly income. However, it has not all been bad news.

There have been lots of enquiries from local people to go on our local doorstep delivery rounds result- ing in more than 150 new local customers. Similarly, the farmers markets in London have become incred- ibly busy as more people are now buying high-quality fresh produce to cook great meals at home, instead of eating out.

This recent trend has seen our weekly sales double at the farmers and food markets we attend in Lon- don, such as Primrose Hill, Chiswick, Herne Hill,Vic- toria Park, Stoke Newington, Borough Market, Crystal Palace, Brockley, Walthamstow and Alexandra Palace.

Our production has increased so that we can supply all our customers. For example, this week we have made a thousand rolls of our wonderful organic grass fed farm house butter! Fortunately, our hard working staff, all of whom are key workers providing food, have been kept safe through the pandemic.

Our Market Manager has been put out to Grass!
After 10 years as our market manager, Tony Vintner has retired. You may know Tony as radio presenter Tony Williams on Uckfield FM, or as the proprietor of Jingles music shop that used to be in Hailsham High Street! Tony has done a great job developing the farmers markets we do in London making Hook and Son one of the leading dairy brands in London.

Get your Grass Fed Dairy Beef Orders in for Christmas!
Although Christmas is still a couple of months away, it would be a good idea to get your beef orders in as soon as possible to try to reserve your favourite cuts and joints of beef for Christmas. It will be first come first served, so you don’t want to be disappointed!

Our beef is 28 day aged organic grass fed dairy cross Aberdeen Angus beef. It is very popular. It tastes amazing. Please contact the office,

CALL US TO ORDER
For fresh produce, delivered and for collection, please call us on 01323 449494.

The Wealden Eye Magazine | November/December 2020 Issue
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