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News from the farm
The years seem to fly past so quickly. It’s Autumn again, the harvest is in and we are coming out of Europe. Many people have asked if it will affect farming; well the answer is yes but whether it will be good or bad is anybody’s guess!
The prices of wheat and barley have gone up due to the slide in the value of the pound; both are up by over 15%. The downside is that the price of fertiliser and other inputs has gone up. I expect we will not know whether Brexit is good or bad until many years after the event. Personally I have got my fingers crossed!
The cattle are now all in the sheds and seem very happy. The cows are looking well and are in good condition. We will have to be careful how much silage we give them as cows have a remarkable ability to eat and eat. The calves that were born last spring have now been weaned off the cows so the cows are on a reduced diet to try to prevent them getting too heavy. The plan is to keep them on an optimum diet to avoid any calving problems next spring with the growing calves becoming too big and the possibility of calving difficulties at birth. It is not easy to resist the cow’s faces when you walk past and you can almost feel them say “Go on give me a bit more pleeease!”
The autumn ewes have almost finished lambing which has gone fairly well as it has been reasonably dry and fairly warm. I did lose one lamb that I turned out on a day when it poured with rain at night, but on the whole the lambs are looking well. At the moment the flocks are grazing the pasture fields which have been growing well into the winter and should provide enough fodder until next year. In the New Year the flocks will start to graze the fodder rape and stubble turnips which we grow especially for the sheep to eat during the early months of the year.
News from the farm shop
It is November so please do use your 10% discount vouchers which were included in the Lobbs Farm Shop 2016 calendar; these are valid for one transaction only. The 2017 calendar has just gone to print and will be given out with Christmas and New Year orders. There are only so many calendars printed so to ensure you get your copy which include the discount vouchers for February and November then please do make an order. I am pleased with the photographs in the 2017 calendar which include a lovely selection of local views and we are thankful for the contributions from our customers for their photographs. For each of our customers’ images that we use we give £50 to a charity of the photographer’s choice.
Well hung beef and Christmas poultry
The butchery team are busy getting the meat organised for Christmas. To get the required hanging time for our beef coming from our own farms we need to plan well ahead. We will again be selling Cornish chicken coming from an award winning free range producer. Our turkeys come from three local Cornish producers one of which is organic. We will have white and bronze turkeys for you to choose for your seasonal celebration meals. The turkeys can be bought boned and rolled or as a turkey crown which is a turkey without the legs and thighs or you can buy the traditional whole turkey. We have delicious ducks from Devon and a source for gorgeous geese.
Great game selection
There will be a range of game available from venison haunches or tenderloins to rabbits and pheasant. This is the time of year when people like to push the boat out for some glorious meats which we are pleased to supply but please do make an order so we can reserve your requirements in advance and you will get a Lobbs Farm Shop calendar.
We will have sausages in blankets, sausage meat tubes, cocktail sausages and a choice of sausage flavours such as mulled wine and chestnut as well as the usual choice, and don’t forget the streaky bacon to cover the turkey.
The delicatessen is able to take orders for the festive season for your specific requirements such as Stilton and cranberry cheese, or Stilton mango and ginger and of course the ever popular Cropwell Bishop. Another speciality Christmas cheese is the Bowland: a Lancashire cheese with raisins, apple and cinnamon.
On the shop shelves we have gluten free Christmas puddings from Coles, puddings from Simply Cornish and our own Lobbs Farm Shop puddings, available in a small medium or large size; a pudding for every size of feast.
There is even a Christmas pudding chocolate bar from Kernow chocolate, a Christmas stollen chocolate, and a Bah Humbug bar. Oh did I mention it is nearly Christmas? We also have Teonis’ Christmas pudding cookies and Teonis’ dipped cranberry cookies. These look really nice; I may have to grab a pack for myself!
On the drinks side we have Cornish…… gin from Tarquins, Aval Dor Vodka from the Dustow family, Revolver rum from Lostwithiel, and Cornish moonshine, a sort of whiskey hooch. There is also a Christmas mead and of course………. a Christmas pudding wine.
Why not get some different Cornish beers for your guests or as Christmas gifts. We have lots of different micro brewery bottles on offer; there is Tremethick beer which is made locally at Grampound , Harbour Brewing from Bodmin, who have some great beers, as do Skinners from Truro, Padstow Brewing, Rebel Brewing from Bodmin and Sharps from Rock.
We are now taking Christmas orders at our butchery and delicatessen counters. Please ask our assistants to take your order for collection before Christmas. We have a good system where we take the order and you receive a document which identifies the order and the day of collection. Please bring the document back with you when you collect your goods.
Christmas shopping nights
Christmas late night shopping nights at Lobbs Farm Shop are Monday the 5th and the 12th of December. We will be open until 9:00pm with some of our suppliers here offering tasters for you to try plus mulled apple juice and our own homemade mince pies. The Lost Gardens of Heligan will be open on the evenings of the 5th and the 19th of December.
You can order Lobbs' beef & lamb, Cornish pork, our own homemade sausages including pigs in blankets, not forgetting the stuffing from the butchery counter, any combination of cheeses, salads and pies from our delicatessen counter or bread, cakes & vegetables at the tills. Just ask a member of staff – we’ll do the rest.
Now is the time to place your perfect Christmas order but please remember availability is limited so do make your order to give us an opportunity to fulfil your requirements. When you collect your Christmas orders we will also include a Lobbs' 2017 charity photo calendar with discount vouchers for next February and November 2017.
News from the farm
The harvest is almost complete and we can breathe a sigh of relief; it can be so all consuming with evening and weekend work, trying to get the crops in before the weather turns wet. The grain crops are all dried and put into store with just the one field of straw left to bale. We need two or three days of dry weather to dry the crops out before we can begin our harvest work so two days dry followed by a wet day is of no help to us.
The yields are down on what we were hoping to achieve by about 25% which is disappointing but the grain price has gone up by 15% due to the weakness of sterling. We have just begun ploughing the fields again ready to drill next year’s wheat and barley which we will drill during October. The regular rainfall has created good growing conditions for the forage rape crop which we grow to feed to our sheep during the depths of winter when grass growth has stalled. There is a field next to the road between the two Kestle crossroads which is looking good at the moment.
On the opposite side of the road there is a field of winter barley that has been left partially uncut. This has been left specifically to provide food for birds over winter and is part of our European funded stewardship programme. Our scheme is due to expire at the end of October and we have not signed up to a new scheme as the payments are not enough to justify the extra work and form filling required. We will now need to bring these areas of the farm that have been set aside for wildlife back into production. This will incur quite a bit of work as unfortunately several difficult weeds such as stroil (couch grass), docks and blackthorn have become established. We will still provide wildlife friendly areas on the farm but these will be at our own instigation rather than some diktat from on high and all the forms that go with it.
News from the farm shop
Some of you may know our butchers by name; well butcher John has decided to retire. He has been past retiring age for a few years now but has continued to work for us for a few days each week. John will be greatly missed; his knowledge and calm manner has been part of our butchery team since 2004. Fortunately he has a daughter, Lesley, who has developed her skills over the years and is now our assistant butchery manager. We have also had the pleasure of previously employing his grandson, Harry, and currently his granddaughter, Grace. We all at Lobbs Farm Shop wish John a long and happy retirement.
At John’s retirement party I enjoyed a rib eye steak cooked to perfection by Mark the chef. I can honestly say it was the best steak I have eaten since the last time I ate steak at the Salamander restaurant. Mark buys his steaks from Lobbs Farm Shop so I know it is good beef but he certainly does know how to cook them - perfect!
Our butchery counter has the full range of steaks on offer from rib-eye to rump and sirloin. Please do try them yourself.
An excellent and cheaper piece of beef would be a joint of brisket. This can be as tasty as any joint when cooked slowly to bring out the flavour and tenderise the meat and at only £6.95/kg this is really good value. A hand of pork is another economical joint at only £2.50/kg. A whole joint may only cost as little as £4.00.
We are now able to provide Cash back with debit card purchases. There is a minimum spend of £5 and the maximum amount for cash back is up to £50. This is now becoming increasingly more popular as a safe and convenient way to get cash rather than through a wall machine or having to visit a bank which may well incur car parking charges. We are also conveniently open most days of the week. The debit card machines are also able to complete contact less transactions for payments up to £30.
The Lobbs Farmhouse Kitchen Range cakes are very popular with a Victoria sponge my favourite with its lovely butter cream filling. We also make coffee and chocolate flavoured sponges and the well liked lemon drizzle cake.
Please do remember that the shop closing time will move to 5.00 pm from October the 1st.
News from the farm
It has been a challenging autumn; with such a wet August our combining dragged on into September. Our wheat and barley crop yields were good this year but, as is often the case, the price is low making the crop unprofitable this year. The dramatic swings in price (by nearly minus 40% over 2 years) are out of our control, due to food politics and the oversupply of wheat and barley from good harvests around the world. I have chosen to store my crops and hope that the price increases as the winter progresses. It is a gamble and difficult to know the optimum time to sell the crop.
We have brought our rams in to see the ewes in preparation for lambs to be born in the spring. We have three rams at Lower Kestle Farm and one ram serves around forty ewes. We also have a special ram called "The Teaser": a castrated male sheep who is introduced to the flock of ewes. His main purpose is... well let's just say to 'entertain and amuse' these ewes so when they meet the real ram they will quickly conceive, producing a tighter lambing period. A few specialists also contend that the number of lambs conceived is also improved.
The autumn flock is now lambing and these ewes were scanned in August with predicted lambing of 1.65 lambs per ewe (that's an average if you were wondering, not 3 legged lambs!). This could be potentially one of the best lamb crops for several years; the challenge for us on the farm is to care for these ewes and lambs to realise this potential. The grass appears to have grown well during September and even October which will give these lambs a great start.
The vegetable field has been producing some lovely cauliflowers, cabbages and leeks which you will have seen at the shop. Many vegetable growers are concerned that the warm autumn which has encouraged the crops to be quite forward will result in a deficit later in the year as all of the varieties seem to be coming to harvest together rather than in a cycle of varieties each month throughout the winter. We do have brussel sprouts which we are harvesting now and we hope to have them available throughout December provided the weather allows.
I recently hosted a Tregony primary school visit - the theme was harvest. The 5 year olds really enjoyed walking across the muddy vegetable field and helping to pull the swedes and leeks out of the ground and to cut the cauliflowers and cabbages. We put all of the vegetables into a big tray which they took back with them to school. The children also visited the lambing shed where they ate their snack seated on straw bales. I took the opportunity to talk to them about our ewes, lambs and the food the animals eat during the year. I held a two day old lamb in my hands giving the children the chance to touch and feel the wool.
The class teacher has just sent me a lovely letter of thanks with individual letters from the children and drawings of the sheep - super. It is a pleasure to host these free visits. I just hope the parents remember when it comes to buying their meat and food requirements that Lobbs Farm Shop is a caring community shop selling quality local food.
News from the farm shop
We are now taking Christmas orders at our butchery and delicatessen counters. Please ask our assistants to take your order for collection before Christmas. We have a good system where we take the order and you receive a document which identifies the order and the day of collection. Please bring the document back with you when you collect your goods.
We have the Lobbs Farm Shop 2016 calendar which we give out free with each order. In the calendar will be the 2016 February and November 10% discount vouchers – valid for one transaction.
Here are a few good ideas to make your Christmas that little bit easier; why not…..
Have a pack of Lobbs' frozen beef cocktail pasties in your freezer ready to take out when those unexpected guests arrive and you want to give them something special to nibble on. They only take 40 minutes to cook from frozen and are delicious.
Get in a jar of special chutney such as Sisley’s Cornish chutney or Homecraft’s Tinners choice; just the job to spice up the cold meat and leftovers and great in a turkey sandwich.
Why not get a pack of different stuffing mix to go with the Christmas dinner. I always enjoy the stuffing with the turkey and it makes the meal stretch over a larger number. There are lots of varieties including the cranberry, orange and roast chestnut or the sage, lemon and chestnut. The stuffing’s are in the wooden cabinet to the right of the butchery counter.
Get your chosen curry sauce in stock now to cook up the meat leftovers. Our Madhuban curry mixes are really good and are found in the chill cabinet above the gammons and milk.
Another goody with leftover meat is a coronation sauce to make a sandwich with a bit of zing. Stokes makes a great coronation sauce and several variations of tomato sauce.
Piccalilli, Piccalilli. Piccalilli. Piccalilli. Yes we have four different makes of Piccalilli - get one for your store cupboard.
We have several different ingredients for you to make the alternative salad for the season: tricolour cous cous, green wheat freekeh, long wheat rice, short grain rice, basmati rice, Arborio rice, dried fruits, golden raisins, lentils, mixed beans.
I am not much of a cook but I quite like the sound of green wheat freekeh. Apparently it is wheat harvested whilst still young and green, preserving the grain by roasting and drying, optimising the taste and nutritional value of the cereal and it is one of the super foods for 2015 being high in fibre and low in carbohydrates. Try typing freekeh into the internet; there are several interesting recipes using green wheat freekeh instead of rice.
Well hung beef
The butchers are preparing the meat and our cold room is now full of beef carcases being hung prior to cutting to your Christmas requirements. To have the best beef it is important that the carcase is well hung and butchered by artisan butchers who know which bit of fat and sinew to cut out and how to cut the joints to their best. Supermarket beef will not be prepared to the same standard as the guys working in the factory are on a tight time pressure to get the meat into a pack as soon as possible. Please do talk to our butchers and ask for your exact requirements - Phil who is the tall one with the “funny” jokes, Lesley who is the lovely lady butcher, John who is Lesley’s dad and Ross who is the young gun keen to help. We will also have Helen, Julie, and Ellie, our team of ladies, happy to help serve you with your meat. This year we will also have Grace, Lesley’s daughter and Lauren, Phil’s daughter helping to make pigs in blankets and assisting the butchers wherever needed; a real family shop.
Christmas shopping nights
Christmas late night shopping nights at Lobbs Farm Shop and The Lost Gardens of Heligan are Monday the 7th and the 14th of December. We will be open until 9:00pm with some of our suppliers here offering tasters for you to try plus mulled apple juice & our own homemade mince pies.
You can order Lobbs' beef & lamb, Cornish pork, our own homemade sausages including pigs in blankets not forgetting the stuffing from the butchery counter, any combination of cheeses, salads and pies from our delicatessen counter or bread, cakes & vegetables at the tills. Just ask a member of staff – we’ll do the rest.
Now is the time to place your perfect Christmas order but please remember availability is limited so do make your order to give us an opportunity to fulfil your requirements. When you collect your Christmas orders we will also include a Lobbs' 2016 Charity Photo Calendar with discount vouchers for next February and November 2016.
News from the farm
This year’s vegetable field is adjacent to the main road between the two Kestle crossroads. You may see the field as you drive past. We try to plant a few rows every couple of weeks of various different brassicas such as cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts. The aim is to be able to have a succession of crops ready to harvest throughout the year. Currently we are harvesting pointy cabbage, crinkly leaf cabbage, beetroot, and broccoli.
It is a battle to get these plants to harvest as many of you will appreciate, as nature has a huge array of pests ready to take advantage of a chink in our defences. There are slugs that delight in gobbling down our young leafy plants at every opportunity. Cabbage root fly like to lay their eggs adjacent to the young stems; eventually these eggs hatch into larvae which nibble off the plant stems. The flea beetle likes to eat the young soft leaves leaving a pitted leaf which eventually withers and the plants struggle to grow.
To reduce the effects of these pests we use a plastic mesh fleece which protects the young plants and also provides a special microclimate encouraging growth. The fleece also reduces the number of pesticides that we have to use which has to be good for the environment and us, as we eat the vegetables. When the plants get larger we remove the fleece but then we have to watch out for the cabbage white butterfly and the voracious caterpillars that endeavour to eat and damage our crops.
Finally we have to dissuade the pigeons that often come to the field early in the morning and nibble the leaves and can quite easily devastate the crops. It is noticeable that the birds prefer the green leaves and not the purple leaf varieties! We have a bird banger which has a double bang and is set to go off every hour which can be annoying at first but after a while it becomes less intrusive. We do try to aim the banger away from houses and the bangs are fairly quiet to reduce any annoyance to our neighbours.
Hopefully we will win this annual battle and manage to harvest our vegetables which we hope you all enjoy. It is important that we try to grow these vegetables for the shop because I believe that the fact that our vegetables are picked and delivered to the shop in less than an hour is the best way to optimise the flavour and essential vitamins that the vegetables provide. All leaf vegetables will deteriorate from the moment they are picked and in my view the fresher the better.
News from the shop
My wife Helen and I have just returned from a holiday in France where we enjoyed the sunshine and great food. But I have to say that the steaks that we eat here at home are SO much better than the ones prepared for us in the French restaurants.
I know it's meat from our own farm and I could be a little bit biased but I do genuinely believe our meat is better.
Whether it’s the fact that the animals are a real beef breed, are grass fed, live a happy life with little stress and are allowed to grow slower to mature at two years of age, or it could be that the meat is allowed to hang in the chiller properly and then prepared by our expert butchers into the finished product. Whatever the reason, and I expect it is the combination of all these factors, I do honestly believe our meat is excellent and quite often the very best that you can buy. Or is it just me?
Winter 2015 Newsletter
Well what a difference this winter is to last year: less torrential rain and at the moment a run of very cold days which we do not often experience in Cornwall. The sheep are lambing at the moment and it is surprising how well the young lambs manage in the cold weather. As long as we feed the ewes well, which ensures the ewe produces plenty of milk, then the lambs normally thrive. We try to keep the ewe and lamb in the shed until the lambs are 3 to 4 days old; it always amazes me how quickly a small new born lamb can grow into a speedy bouncing and prancing bundle in just a few days. It is a real joy to see the lambs group themselves together and then in a flash run across the field for no apparent reason, just for the joy of life.
The cattle are all in the shed except for one of my bulls; he is outside in a field adjacent to the yard where he receives silage and rolled barley every day. I have put him outside as it is difficult with two bulls to keep them apart from each other and importantly the young heifers. I want to decide when the heifers go to the bull and not when he decides!
The first calf was born yesterday from a young heifer so she is now a cow and enters the herd. It is extremely important to make sure that the young calf, or lamb for that matter, have an adequate intake of colostrum in the first few hours of life. The colostrum can transfer vital immunities for many diseases and is nutritionally essential to the young animal. The cows, although normally very placid creatures, can get quite protective of their offspring immediately after calving when their hormones are out of balance, so we try to keep well out of their way if at all possible. Ideally we see the first signs of calving and have time to put the expectant cow into an individual pen prior to calving but often the cow will calve overnight and the first sign is a calf in the group pen.
The winter cauliflowers are affected by the cold frosts and any that are suitable for harvest can be damaged by the frost. If the weather is severe it can totally decimate the crop which can then lead to shortages and cause the prices to fluctuate. Conversely it has always been said that the flavour of a swede or, as the Cornish say, a turnip is much better after a good frost. Well now is the time to find out. We do have a lovely lot of winter turnips this year and they are excellent in stews, casseroles, pasties and of course with a roast Please do try one soon; this is the season for swedes.
Please please do bring in your discount vouchers for February. These were on the Lobbs Farm Shop 2015 calendar.
There are a few new products in the shop one of which is the range of bake tins; these pretty triangular tins contain all the ingredients required and a recipe guide to make either brown sugar shortbread or chocolate dipped cookie dough balls. This is a great idea as a present for a relation that has a burgeoning or a latent maybe undeveloped interest in baking!
Our own made Lobbs Farm Shop kitchen range has also been extended with the addition of a shepherd’s pie containing lamb mince. Our cooks are also making a moussaka which is one of my favourite dishes and always reminds me of my holiday to Rhodes - yum! Both of these dishes are available in the small or large trays.
In the freezers we are also stocking the Chapman’s range of fish including chunky cod fillets and haddock fillets; both are skinless and boneless. There are also packs of large peeled prawns already cooked, peeled and ready to use in a prawn cocktail, pie, salad or with a sauce such as the Home Farm hoisin & chilli or a Home Farm stir fry lemon sauce.
The butchers have a couple of new sauces to go with our own meat. One of these is the black bean sauce which is a Chinese style sauce good with the meat of your choice. We also tried the honey and mustard sauce with chicken which we all thought was absolutely lovely. There is also a beef stroganoff sauce and finally the grand veneur sauce which goes with game meats and vegetables. We really liked these meat and sauce dishes. I can recommend these to you; please do try, especially the honey and mustard which is really good - yum yum!
Last week a few of our team had a go at making pasties as a group activity in our Countryside Barn. Obviously using the best ingredients from Lobbs Farm Shop; Lobbs home produced diced beef skirt (considered the best cut to use for pasties), Cornish sliced potato, Lobbs homegrown sliced swede, English sliced onion & seasoning. Phil, our butchery manager, brought along his daughter to have a go too. It is great to do this with family and friends so that the traditions of pasty making are passed from one generation to the next. The pasty is an important part of our heritage and also a very tasty meal for us all to enjoy whether at home or on a picnic. A good time was had by all – with our thanks to Anne for sharing her enthusiasm & encouragement. Well done!
We do occasionally receive comments back from our customers and these are most welcome as we need feedback to keep us on our toes and improve where we have gone wrong so THANK YOU for the comments. A very complimentary comment was received recently from a customer who had bought some mutton.
His comments were:
“Mutton is a truly understated meat: tender, tasty and when cooked very slowly is really good. Mine was a large shoulder which fed 10 people, roasted with merguez spices rubbed in and marinated overnight .The spices are a mixture: coriander, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, smoked paprika, garlic and rosemary. Cooked for 7 hours on low. Fantastic.” Richard from Polmassick.
I am writing this on a very damp dismal autumn day.
Fortunately it has not been cold as well which has to be
good for our new born lambs. We have been busy with the sheep this past week; as each ewe gives birth we need to pen the ewe and lambs into an individual pen to allow the natural bonding to develop. The ewes are extremely sensitive and recognise their own lamb as much by smell as their bleat.
The following day the ewe and lambs are moved to a larger pen where there may be 4 to 6 ewes with their lambs. Eventually after a few days, and if the weather allows, these are then turned out to grass where we have groups of 15 to 20 ewes in each field. We keep a close eye on these vulnerable lambs and we feed the ewes a mix of rolled barley and molasses to keep their energy levels up and to encourage the ewes' milk production which is so essential for the young lambs.
We have managed to drill most of our crops of barley and wheat which has been difficult as October has been a wet month. These crops are now emerging from the soil and will require a spray to control aphids which carry a disease called barley yellow dwarf virus. When the aphid settles on a seedling plant it will attach itself to the leaf and suck nutrients from the plant. In the process the disease is transferred to the plant from the aphid; the effect on the crop can be devastating, potentially reducing the yield by well over 50%.
Vouchers We are really pleased that many of you are
bringing back your calendar vouchers to claim the 10%
discount in November. If you have not got a voucher then please do make a Christmas order from the butchery or delicatessen which will then entitle you to a fabulous Lobbs 2015 calendar which includes discount vouchers for next February and November. The calendar has local scenes taken by local photographers and it is a good way of raising money for local charities as we give £50 for every photograph that we use. This also means that we have a calendar that celebrates the beauty of our local area which we all are so lucky to enjoy.
Lobbs' delicatessen is now stocking up for Christmas; one new arrival is the Bowland cheese - perfect for the
Christmas cheese board as it is a traditional Lancashire
cheese with raisins, apple and cinnamon. Look out for
exciting new cheeses and produce that will arrive as the
merry season draws closer.
Remember you can place your Christmas order at the deli from now on. Choose from cooked meats, pies, pates, salads, cheeses and olives; all prepared, weighed or cut to your requirements. Cheese hampers can also be ordered and they are a lovely gift for Christmas. We have set hampers to choose from which can be seen on our own website or you can make your own hamper to add a more personal touch. Don’t forget to get your favourite crackers and chutneys to accompany your cheese selection. Please speak to a member of staff on the deli for more information.
New to the deli this month is the Trewithen Dairy spreadable butter which has just won the best new product award by the grocer magazine. This is a blend of Cornish butter and sunflower oil; why not give this a try if you like to buy the Trewithen block butters. Check out our new roulades for cheese, priced at £2.45 each: fig & walnut or apricot & almond. Both are a delicious combination of dried fruit and nuts and are perfect with soft or hard cheeses or enjoyed as a tasty snack. We have ‘fruit for cheese’ purees in English and new exotic flavours: papaya, guava and lime & chilli. Serve these
flavours with different types of cheese available in the counter.
The shop is slowly becoming more festive in the run up to Christmas, introducing some great new products; there is a large selection of gift ideas, tins of biscuits in all shapes and sizes, cakes, chutneys, jams and pickles to name a few. Try our own homemade Lobbs' Christmas puddings or from other Cornish companies. We stock gluten free Christmas puddings too. Jars of fruit in alcohol would be a jolly addition to a Christmas meal; these include peaches in brandy, cherries in kirsch and apricots in Amaretto. Christmas would not be complete without a tipple for this party season; check out our Christmas ales available in 500ml bottles or a whopping 3 litre bottle!
We have prepared a selection of readymade hampers to buy and take away. If you wish to make your own then staff will happily assist and make one to your desires; you pick and we wrap! Hampers are available in small, medium or large baskets, either cardboard or wicker. Christmas napkins can be purchased in a variety of designs to add the finishing touch to the table.
Lobbs Farm Shop is now stocking ‘The Cornish Ketchup Company’ range of sauces produced very locally to us at Portholland. These bottles are priced at £4.35 and are available in four flavours: chilli, smokey, original and red pepper.
The butchery team are taking orders for Christmas with the full range of poultry and meat available to order. Once ordered your meat will be prepared and kept ready for you to collect on your selected day. This is an extremely busy time for the butchers and we would like to keep all of our customers happy with their Christmas requirements so please do make the order to avoid disappointment.
When you collect your Christmas orders we will also include next year's calendar with its discount vouchers for next February and November 2015.
Christmas late night shopping nights at The Lost Gardens of Heligan are the 1st, the 8th and the 15th of December. But please remember Lobbs Farm Shop will only be open on the one evening which is the 8th of December.
All of our team work very hard in the last few weeks before Christmas and we felt the extra evenings were taking away from their quality time with their own families. So we are only open for the evening of the eighth of December. Of course we will be delighted to see our customers during our normal hours right up to Christmas Eve 2pm.
Well it really has been a good summer with the weather being excellent for sunbathing and harvesting our winter cereal crops. The winter barley has come off quite dry at 16% moisture which is good. Often the corn has to be harvested at 19% which then means we have to dry the grain using gas for fuel which can be expensive. The yields are reasonable so far ranging from 2 ton to the acre in my worst field and up to 3 tons in the best. We bale and carry the straw (cereal stems) which we store in our farmyard and use as winter bedding for the cattle.
This summer is the 100th commemoration of the start of the First World War. Although I personally was not around at the time I have heard many tales from my family as to how farming was managed in those difficult times. A huge number of farm horses, shires and others were requisitioned and sent off to be used pulling artillery and supplies. I can only imagine the depravation that these animals suffered in the battle fields; such a contrast from the idyllic but hard life on a working farm ploughing and pulling carts. These horses were loved and cared for by the farmers and their role as the primary muscle on the farm was massive. The bond between the horseman and horse would have been immense as these animals were working with their owner most days of the week over a period of 20 years or more. The tale I can remember hearing most was that they came and took away the horses and it was always the best horse that had to go and they didn’t come back!
It is interesting to note a few production facts that illustrate how British farming has changed with less acres available but more produced:
SELF SUFFICIENCY figures - source: National Farmers Union.
Wheat 19% 83%
Beef 68% 83%
Sugar Beet 0% 60%
Mutton & Lamb 60% 100%
Eggs 50% 87%
These figures are impressive enough but due to production increases the totals produced now are hugely increased, for example:
Production figures - source: National Farmers Union.
Milk 4 million litres 13.5 million litres
Potatoes 2.8 million tonnes 5.7 million tonnes
Wheat 1.7 million tonnes 11.9 million tonnes
Eggs 55,000 tonnes 1.7 million tonnes
The arrival of the hot summer days is the time to get out and have yourself a picnic. I know it can be a struggle to get it all packed up so why not come to Lobbs Farm Shop and get your delicatessen delights, pies and quiches, salads, cheese, crisps, fruit and a drink. If you would like to take a photograph of your picnic spread with the view in the background of your special spot then please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may include it in next year's calendar. We received several last year but we would like to include more photographs taken by you, our customers, of our local area. It could be a photograph of the seaside from St Mawes or Fowey, it could be a country scene or event such as a barbecue or party, fete or just an image taken on your favourite walk. We give £50 to a charity of the photographer’s choice for every chosen photograph that we include in the calendar. It really is a great and fun way to raise money for your charity and may give other people pleasure when the calendar is seen next year. Those of you that have this year’s calendar will be able to see what wonderful pictures we have of our local countryside.
Blue blue and blue - we have a choice of blue cheeses at the moment.
Helford Blue is a soft, creamy full of flavour pasteurised cheese made on a farm near Helston.
Devon Blue is another cheese made on the farm in Devon next to the river Dart. It is moist and slightly crumbly.
Beenleigh Blue is a ewe’s milk cheese made on the same farm as Devon Blue.
Cropwell Bishop is a world famous stilton cheese of medium strength and quite crumbly.
Cornish Blue is a tremendous sweet and mild creamy cheese that won the 2010 Champion World Cheese Award.
We are often being asked what we have specifically suitable for vegetarians. In the freezer section we have a macaroni and leek cheese dish with a seasoning of nutmeg. There is also a frozen puy lentil and vegetable pie which I can confirm is very tasty. On the delicatessen we have the vegetable feta puffs which contain sliced courgettes, red onion and tomatoes flavoured with basil, garlic and a coating of poppy seeds - very delicious. We also have our popular and tasty homity pies available by the slice and occasionally we stock a spinach feta and sun dried tomato with garlic turnover. There are normally vegetarian quiches and the frittata which is also gluten free. I am a committed meat eater but I must say these vegetarian delights are very tasty and I recommend you to try them soon.
The butchers have been very busy this summer producing our own burgers and sausages which both have high meat content and do not contain any reconstituted meat, only real beef, pork or lamb. We have a choice of steaks on offer which are in my opinion some of the best in Cornwall. There is the chilly willy flavoured top rump steak. These are cheaper than the normal rump steaks as the meat comes from the very top of the rump which is then tenderised and marinated with a sweet chilly sauce. Our rump steaks are the ones I normally choose as I believe they are very good value with great eating characteristics; tender and tasty. The sirloin steaks are the classic steaks and are extremely popular whilst the fillet steaks are just great with the melt in the mouth tenderness of quality meat.
We have our minted lamb steaks - excellent quality with superb flavour and a fantastic aroma. In the counter there are also lamb chump steaks which are the lamb equivalent of a beef rump. Similarly there are pork chump steaks. The chump steaks are good value as they are both boneless steaks. Please do try our beef and lamb steaks as they are truly excellent, derived from animals cared for on our own farms with the meat being well hung in our own cold rooms and professionally prepared by our experienced butchery team.
I saw the first swallow in my farmyard on the 13th of April; always to me that is the sign that spring has arrived. My first job of each day is to walk out to see the cows that may be calving followed by the cows that are suckling their calves in our pastures. It is a lovely job to walk through the fields and see the hedgerow flowers, hear the birds singing and to see healthy animals living life the way it should be; naturally. Spring is such a lovely time of year with all the promise of the crops growing away quickly as the ground warms up. It is a joy to be a farmer on such days.
The cattle look so much better outside lying on the grass rather than in the sheds; they are certainly happier. I have turned out all of the cattle except 6 small stirks which are calves older than 6 months. These will go out when the nights are a bit warmer as these adolescent cattle could still get a chill from the cold night air.
“Lucky the bull” has been kept in for a bit longer than the cows and has been roaring his disapproval to me when I pass his pen. I have explained to him that he has to stay in for a couple of weeks more. This is because a cow is pregnant for 9 months and we do not want to have any cows calving until the end of January 2015. His big day will be April the 24th. He is named Lucky because I selected a calf which I wanted to keep for a bull using the animal’s genetic historic information and the individual appearance of a healthy well formed calf. I then looked at the calf’s ear tag number and realised it was number 0013 so it may be unlucky for some but not for this bull.
I have just met a new customer to the shop who was enquiring about our beef which gave me the opportunity to explain how our animals are cared for on our farms. Firstly we have our own beef cows that produce calves in the spring and these have the pleasure of suckling the calves during the summer on our permanent pastures and meadows. It is in these fields that you will also find many wild flowers which support a diversity of life including bumble bees, honey bees and butterflies. Not all beef is produced in this manner; much production now is becoming more intensive with animals treated more like factory farmed pigs and chickens.
There is often an outcry about how animals are kept and the degradation of the countryside by modern farming methods but this is happening because people are content to be part of the agribusiness system, or are unaware of where and how their food is produced. You, the customer, can have a direct influence on how we as farmers manage the countryside. My brothers Terry, Richard and myself, Ian Lobb, are trying to farm in an environmentally sustainable way that will allow a future generation of farmers to produce food in a similar way.
We also believe that care for our animals is vitally important and to us that is paramount as a healthy animal is one that is more likely to produce a profit for our business.
We have just this morning planted the first of this year's cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants. We cover these delicate seedlings with a mesh fleece which keeps pigeons and insects away from the young leaves. This also reduces the need for a pesticide spray to keep away insect pests which has to be good. We buy the young plants rather than seeds which allows the crop to grow away quicker, reducing the period when pest susceptibility is a high risk.
In the shop at the moment we have new Cornish potatoes, Cornish asparagus and have just received the first of the season's Cornish strawberries. The lamb that we are now selling in the butchery is new season lamb rather than the older hog lambs which can have a stronger taste. The new season lambs would have been born in November and suckled the ewes right through the winter.
In the farm shop we have a couple of new products from the new distillery at St Ervan. There is a Cornish dry gin tasting of delicious bright juniper with a hint of orange blossom infused with violets and made with Cornish spring water. There is also a Cornish Pastis which has a sweet yet dry herbal aniseed and light citrus flavour infused with wild gorse flowers and also made with Cornish spring water. Another new product is Qcumber, a refreshing blend of sparkling spring water and cucumber.
We also have the range of soft drinks from Cornish Orchards who are famous for their ciders. These are the orange and lemon sparkle which they describe as sunshine in a bottle and the cranberry and raspberry sparkle which is both fruity and refreshing. My favourite is the classic lemonade which is a blend of pressed lemon juice, apple juice and sparkling water; a summer drink to enjoy at any time of year. Cornish Orchards also has an extensive range of apple juices and ciders available which are well worth trying. All are made locally at Duloe near Liskeard and sold at Lobbs Farm Shop.
I enjoy eating too many sweet things which probably are not good for me, one of which is Cornish fudge. Lobbs stock a large choice of fudges with Roskillys supplying us with the rich clotted cream and the stem ginger flavours, very creamy and delicious. Buttermilk from Padstow send us their handmade fudge with the following flavours: chocolate, clotted cream, rum and raisin and even a coconut flavour. The Isles of Scilly Fudge Company supplies us with: chocolate orange, vanilla velvet, lemon meringue, peanut butter and Cornish sea salt, bakewell, maple and walnut.
These are all locally produced and make an ideal gift for a friend or a treat for yourself - a real taste of Cornwall.
I have just read my winter of 2013 newsletter and this year, 2014, the weather appears to be a repeat but worse. My heart goes out to the people and farmers who are totally inundated with water; not just for a day or two, which is bad enough, but for many weeks; some since the middle of December - demoralising indeed.
Our sheep are struggling through the wet. The lambs are managing on the whole apart from two lambs that had just had enough of the rain. I brought them both in to the yard and put them under a heat lamp. I fed them both with milk but unfortunately both lambs died suffering from exhaustion from the incessant wet weather. I have been feeding most of the ewes in the fields with rolled barley/oats which has kept their energy levels up and supported their milk supply which in turn is the best remedy for the lambs. In time the lambs will also eat the cereal mix supplementing the limited grass available. Much of the grass is simply not growing and what grass there is has been splashed on by the muddy conditions.
The cattle in the yards are looking well but we are coming to the end of our winter bedding of straw. We appear to be using more straw in our cattle yards as the atmosphere is always so damp with the wind blowing the damp air into the sheds and then dropping on to the bedding. If only we could order up 2 weeks sunshine!!
Our cattle are kept indoors during the winter which means that they are protected from the worst of the weather. This also gives our ewes the availability of extra acres of grass during the slow growing days of the winter. To house the animals is expensive though with supplies of silage and hay to be fed and straw required for bedding.
A few farms such as our neighbours, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, are trying to keep their cattle out during the winter and are feeding the animals in silage rings on the pastures. This is potentially a cheaper method but it has been extremely difficult to manage successfully this year. Many farms have chosen the Dexter breed of cattle specifically because they are a small breed which are used to the rain as they are native to the south west of Ireland.
The beef that we sell in the farm shop is sourced from our own herds of cattle. We have South Devon cows producing calves in the spring and grazing the pastures during the summer. This is an idyllic way of producing meat and the animals are very content.
It was 12 months ago that the horsemeat scandal surfaced and yet we are still awaiting a prosecution and an explanation of how the supermarkets’ traceability really works. Or Not. If that was a small butcher shop the authorities would have closed the business and prosecuted the perpetrators. Instead we see the supermarkets increasing their market share and the large processors continuing to search the world for cheap “meat”.
Our big packs of real beef mince are very popular with five packs of one pound of real beef mince at £10.94. These are just so useful to have in the freezer. We also do big packs of real beef chuck steak which are £18.45 for five pounds. If you prefer, we also do a winter warmer pack which consists of two pounds of real beef mince and one pack of real beef chuck steak for £10.94.
Oh & did I say that this is mince made from REAL beef produced here at Lobbs Farm Shop! This is what I eat and give to my family.
Lobbs Farm Shop beef mince is derived from our prime cattle all under 30 months of age. The supermarkets’ mince may well be manufactured from old cows from dairy farms as well as the yucky bits from the factory manufacturing process.
Don’t forget that we stock the Madhuban range of curry sauces which are great with Lobbs’ meat; a curry with provenance. The different sauces include a medium Bhoona, Balti, Korma, Madras, Jhalfrezi as well as a Thai red or green curry. We have packs of rice, dried fruit, mango chutney, naan bread, puppodums - everything you need for a great home cooked curry.
We have some new products from another local producer - Homecrafts of Par, St Austell. These are a range of chutneys and jams such as curried peach and apple chutney or pear chutney.
The jams are a very high fruit content with 45g of fruit in every 100g of jam in the peach, raspberry and redcurrant jam. These are a real flavour sensation and you don’t need as much on your plate to get the flavour.
We are also stocking a new range of Cornish manufactured coffee called Cornish Gold: a medium roast ground coffee for filter and cafetiere. We also stock tea from the Cornish Tea Company which comes in an orange box with 40 tea bags.
Burts’ crisps have now introduced a few new varieties which include Guinness, spicy chorizo and firecracker lobster flavour. I have yet to try these so please let us know what you think.
Many of you have already seen that we are selling the lovely bread made by the Lost Gardens of Heligan bakery. There are brown, white and harvest loaves and we normally get our delivery by mid morning with the bread still warm when we put it out on the shelf. We also sell De Bara artisan bread which includes sour dough as well as spelt bread, a sunflower seed loaf and the ciabbata. We have the more traditional white and brown loaves made by Martins bakery of St.Austell who also produce a selection of rolls. If by any chance we run out of these loaves then we also cook our bake off bread which consists of a white bloomer and a brown organic bloomer as well as baguettes. These bake off breads are also available from our freezer if you wish to bake at home to serve warm with your meal.
We have been busy in the farmhouse kitchen with a refurbishment and installation of new equipment. These improvements should make the working conditions far better for our cooks as there is now much more space in the kitchen. We have kept the area as open as possible and customers can still see what is being made and see the cooks at work. We like to give our customers full visibility to see what we are doing whether it’s in the butchery, the kitchen or delicatessen as this is the best way to ensure that everything is done as it should be with nothing hidden around the back.
The farm shop has an excellent standard of cleanliness and our hygiene rating from our Cornwall Council inspection is a top mark of 5. Everyone at Lobb’s works hard to maintain this standard of cleanliness and we are proud of the way the shop is kept clean, at the front and at the back.
Please don’t forget to use your February discount voucher from the 2014 Lobbs Farm Shop calendar as 10% off is a worth while deal. Now may be a good time to stock up your freezers.
Lobbs Farm Shop Autumn 2013 Newsletter
Autumn is a time when we can take stock and plan the next year’s cropping. We had planned to start drilling the 2014 crop of winter barley and winter wheat during the first week of October and if all went well finish before the 20th of October. This would allow the newly planted crops to emerge and grow away whilst there are a few good warm days left. Unfortunately we have had an annoyingly damp autumn with rain at least every other day. We need two or three dry days in a row so that the ground dries enough to allow the tractors to plough and work the soil, which we have not had. Hopefully we will not see too many bare patches where the soil was too wet.
On the livestock side we have got all our cattle in the farmyards on their silage rations.
Terry and I (Ian Lobb) have both recently had to give our cattle tuberculosis tests which went through well without any reactors – Good News.
The ewes have been lambing and there has been plenty of grass in the meadows and pastures because it has been a good growing time for grass. I have just had a busy week with half of my autumn flock all deciding that last week is a good time to lamb. It has gone well though as it is a lot easier to foster a triplet lamb onto a ewe with a single lamb if they are born at roughly the same time. If the lamb is fostered when still wet it is often easy to convince the ewe that the extra lamb is hers as well. Sheep have an acute sense of smell and can spot an impostor lamb once they have the lambs’ scent impregnated on their brain.
Lobbs Farm Shop news
Vouchers We are really pleased that many of you are bringing back your calendar vouchers to claim the 10% discount in November. If you have not got a voucher then please do make a Christmas order from the butchery or delicatessen which will then entitle you to a fabulous Lobbs 2014 calendar which includes discount vouchers for next February and November. The calendar has local scenes taken by local photographers and it is a good way of raising money for local charities as we give £50 for every photograph that we use. This also means that we have a calendar that celebrates the beauty of our local area which we all are so lucky to enjoy.
Hampers are a great present to give a friend, relative or neighbour for that special personalised thank you. Here at Lobbs Farm Shop you can select your own gifts and products which we can then pack into your chosen hamper box or basket. We have chocolates, ales, wine, biscuits, a massive choice of chutneys and preserves all waiting to be packed in to hampers. Many people make a theme of Cornish, indulgence or even a cheese and biscuits box. We really do have a great range of local and West Country distinctive foods. Please do come and have a look.
You may want to come and enjoy the special Christmas shopping nights here at Heligan on the Mondays of 2nd, 9th and 16th of December.
The Butchery will be pleased to take your requirements for your Christmas festivities. We have Cornish turkeys and geese, ducks from Devon and of course our own Cornish beef and lamb. Last year I had a rib of beef which was absolutely delicious. Our meat is well hung and comes from a traditional slow production method. This, in my view, makes a tastier eating meat. We had a large family group where a few people preferred their meat cooked on the pink side and others wanted a more thorough cooking. The rib is so versatile because we took the joint out of the oven 30 minutes before time and cut down between the 1st and 2nd rib. After further cooking this section was not pink but the meat between the 2nd and 3rd rib was still pink – everybody was happy!! We then had meat for the next couple of days which was absolutely great for an easy tea.
Let’s talk turkey!
We have whole, crown, boned, white, Norfolk, organic and bronze.
Whole – A traditional Christmas turkey complete.
Crown Boneless > is the body of the bird boned out so that you can slice right through the joint sold without the legs and wings.
Crown Bone in is the body of the bird including the breast bone sold without the legs and wings.
A Bronze turkey refers to the breed these have brown/bronze feathers and are known to be a better flavour.
A white turkey is white feathered and would normally be slightly cheaper.
A Norfolk turkey is barn reared so will have grown quicker on less feed but will not have experienced the outdoor lifestyle, these will be cheaper to buy.
Of course, just to confuse things, we can crown your whole turkey so that you can slice through the rolled joint and supply you with the legs and wings which will easily cook separately alongside the turkey. This has the advantage of taking less space in the fridge and the oven. Alternatively you can save the legs and thighs to cook at a later date; the choice is yours but please do discuss your order with one of our knowledgeable butchery team.
Lobbs farm shop delicatessen has a range of pies and quiches such as our vegetable feta puff with courgettes, red peppers, red onion and garlic – scrumptious. The chicken, ham, apricot, and leek pie is proving very popular. We also have our Pork pies, Lobbs pasties, bacon and egg pie and sausage rolls.
The cheeses we have in stock currently include the lovely Cornish Camembert and the goats cheese Capricorn these are both lovely when warmed in the oven before serving. We also have the Cornish Gouda and Cornish crumbly two terrific cheeses well worth a place on your cheeseboard. Cropwell Bishop, Dorset Blue Vinny, Cornish Blue and Devon Blue are all available each is different and special in their own taste and flavour which is your favourite blue? Not forgetting Montgomery’s cheddar which is a terrific unpasteurised Somerset cheese the real Mc Coy of cheddar cheese.
The pates in the deep freeze section are numerous with many flavours ideal for that Christmas treat either a on its own or as an accompmiant to other meals. It is rather good smearing pate on to your steak just before serving ummmm! Choose from Wild Boar with Liver. Venison pate or Chicken liver with Rosemary and Thyme. Festive Duck pate or Tequila and cranberry pate.
Please do order your requirement before Christmas to ensure availability just ask at the delicatessen counter with your selection and choose your day of collection.
Newsletter - Summer 2013
News from the farm
Summer has been really good to us this year; so many days of glorious sunshine it has been perfect for the visitors to Cornwall (and all of us lucky residents) being able to enjoy our wonderful countryside, beautiful beaches and fantastic farm shops!
Down on the farms As the old saying goes “make hay when the sun shines!” and the farm has certainly had a busy and prolific summer so far! With the perfect conditions, Richard, Terry and I, Ian Lobb, have been busy cutting hay and although the quality is excellent, the quantity has been reduced due to poor grass growth during the spring. We have also just cut a second crop of silage to help replenish silage stores emptied after the long hard winter. This year’s cereal crops are looking fair and we are hoping for good yields of corn and straw. Terry and his son, Darren Lobb, have oiled and prepared the combine harvester and now we are chomping at the bit – waiting for three consecutive dry days – to be let loose in the fields or as they say... “Thunderbirds are Go Go Go”! You may have seen us walking the cereal fields with a bag in hand pulling and collecting wild oat plants - a job we call “roguing”. These are pernicious weeds that have the remarkable ability to thrive in farmers’ crops despite our efforts to prevent their growth. The plants are tall, with 4 to 8 stems on each plant and up to 20 seeds on each stem; thus a staggering potential of 160 seeds grown from one tiny wild oat seed! These clever seeds have two hairs on the seed which twist when the seed dries or becomes wet, resulting in the seed being able to push itself into the soil. Nature really is amazing!
The chemical companies are able to supply us with a spray that will reduce the population by 95% in good conditions, but that leaves 5% able to survive and to grow in the following crops. If the control was 100% then the companies would not be selling the product for many years! By roguing, however, we have kept the infestation of any seeds spread by birds, machinery or even the seed we buy in new each year to a low level. Although roguing is tiring work, it is good exercise for us and it does reduce the amount and the expense of chemicals that we use on our crops, as well as maintaining the health of our soils, crops and my waistline.
During July we have begun generating electricity from our PV (solar) panels; it will be interesting to see how much we can reduce our electricity bills from the grid by using our own renewable resource instead. The field is also currently being grazed by my young ewe lambs and during the recent hot weather the lambs were very happy to rest under the shade of the panels and get out from the midday sun. In September, these ewes will be introduced to the rams and they should have their first lambs in February.
Farm shop news
Alongside lots of our old Cornish favourites, our delicatessen has had a few new exciting products this summer, including a new creamy cheese “Devon Blue” (it had to bring its passport!) and a new range of scrumptious “Pate-in-a-Jar” from Patchwork! The “Devon Blue” is an excellent blue cow’s cheese with a moist, slightly crumbly texture and is made by Robin Congdon of Ticklemore Cheese on his farm by the banks of the River Dart. Our new Patchwork “Pate-in- a-Jar” includes the varieties of Mediterranean recipe chicken liver pate with spiced chilli and Italian recipe chicken liver pate with apple and walnut - a most yummy addition to any picnic!
Pigs, wonderful pigs!
The pork that we sell is specially sourced from a credible Cornish Supplier; it is cut into joints by our skilled team of butchers who can also bone, roll and stuff these joints to your every need! We offer the COMPLETE pork range: So if it's a quiet picnic for two in the garden, or and on-the-go barbecue to fill the small hungry tummies after a day on the beach, pop into Lobbs for the best grub to complement these gorgeous warm summer evenings!
The sun has got his hat on; hip hip hip-hoorah...... Well we have had a few days so this is now spring; the magnolias are now in bloom and the primroses have just about finished. Now is the time to get into your local woods to enjoy the bluebells before the brambles start to grow and cover them up. On the farm we have had several of the spring calves and it is a wonderful sight to see the cows and calves run around the fields on their day of turnout to the pastures. They will run to the farthest edge of the field and then all of a sudden put on all four brakes with lots of skidding and the occasional bump into the fence. Generally we have to check all the fences before turnout and again a couple of days later to repair the damage done by their over exuberance.
We have experienced a difficult and long winter which has exhausted our supplies of straw that we use to bed the animals in the farmyards. I have fortunately had enough silage and I have sold a few bales to neighbours and friends that have run short. It is very difficult to plan ahead and to know just how much forage you will need and for how long the winter will persist.
We are turning the animals out to pastures where there is very little grass compared to last year when we had such a good early growing season. Hopefully it will warm up soon and the grass will grow away from the animals allowing us to save up a few fields for next year’s silage and hay crops. The sheep are particularly persistent in trying to escape from their dedicated pastures as the young lambs like to jump on to the hedges and are quite capable of jumping down on the other side away from the ewes. They will then bleat BAA BAAA (I am lost) which then encourages the ewes to jump over the hedge to be with their lambs. Before you know it half the flock has jumped over the hedge and are happily making their way to that field of grass that you are trying to save up for next winter’s silage. This normally happens on a Sunday just about dinner time as we all sit down to eat our Sunday roast.
By the end of May all of the brambles will have sprouted leaves and filled up the empty spaces in the hedges making them sheep proof once again. But for now we need to keep the flocks on the move so that they have a new set of hedgerows to discover and a fresh growth of lush spring grass.
We weigh the lambs every week at this time of year to ensure that the ones that we pick for the shop are in prime condition and the right weight. I believe the lambs are at their best for the table when the lambs are 5 to 6 months of age. I prefer the taste of young lamb compared to the older “Hogg” type of animal which could well be 9 to 12 months of age. The breed of sheep we have is the Polled Dorset Horn which is a remarkable breed different to almost every other breed of sheep by the fact they have the ability to breed naturally at any time of year. We manage this trait by introducing the rams to the ewes at the appropriate time to produce lambs that will be the required weight and condition 10 months after the rams are active. The ewes are pregnant for 5 months and the lambs generally need 5 to 6 months to grow to the optimum weight.
The lamb that we sell in the farm shop is sourced almost entirely (99.5%) from one of the three Lobb brothers’ farms. Our lambs are grass fed although we do give the ewes and lambs a feed of rolled barley mixed with molasses to support the ewes’ milk production and the lambs’ growth.
Lamb is a really succulent meat to eat with a flavour so distinct from other meats. Our lamb sold at Lobbs Farm Shop is, I believe, some of the best lamb available. There are many different cuts varying in price, with the lamb steaks being the most expensive down to shoulder of lamb at £5.45/kg and stuffed breast of lamb at only £4.85/kg. Obviously the cheaper cuts require a more considered cooking method.
Leg of lamb is the classic joint that everyone knows well as a great roast with all of the classic accompaniments: roast potatoes, vegetables and of course mint sauce. We sell Tracklements mint sauce at only £2.29 and mint jelly at £2.89 a jar. There is also a local produced version made by Berrio Mill, a Cornish apple mint jelly - 227g at £4.19.
Lamb chump steaks are the equivalent of beef rump steaks on a lamb. These are boneless and very tasty.
Loin chops are extremely tasty as the meat is next to the bone, similar to a beef sirloin. These are superb for the grill, barbeque or oven and are quick to cook. The lamb best end French trim is a group of lamb chops altogether. These can be cooked lightly for about twenty five minutes and served slightly on the pink side, delicious.
Breast of lamb is a rolled joint with parsley and thyme stuffing. This can be cooked slower at a lower heat - 160 degrees for 2 hours. I actually like this meat sliced in a sandwich when cold - yum!
Diced lamb is ideal for stews, lamb hot pot, tagine or a curry. We have a Moroccan Harissa sauce opposite the meat step deck which is £3.99 for a 350g pouch; serve with the cooked lamb with either cous cous, rice or pitta bread.
Minced lamb at £8.09 is ideal for a real shepherd’s pie or a Greek moussaka.
Lamb and mint burgers are truly special burgers with a fantastic flavour so different from a beef burger. Please do try one on the BBQ when we eventually get a good summer’s day.
Lobbs Farm Shop has a large demand for electricity to keep all of our meat, dairy and other chilled products in the freshest of condition. Our annual bill is in excess of £12,000 a year. To reduce this by half we are hoping to install a solar panel system in the field below the car park. We believe this is a good site as there are trees screening the area on three sides but yet and importantly the valley faces south west which is ideal for collecting the power of the sun. The panels will take up an area of less than an acre (about the size of half a football pitch). This has to be a good scheme for us as not only will it reduce our energy costs but it will also improve our green credentials by making best use of our own natural resources.