Notes from the Farm - October 2023

Notes from the Farm - October 2023


Farm Managing Director


If you’ve reached for a thick jumper or turned your heating on over the past few weeks, you’re not alone in feeling the chill.

As the temperatures drop and the wet weather arrives in October, the grass stops growing, so we start bringing in the beef herds to house them over winter. They will go back out to the clover-rich organic pastures next spring, having spent the colder months staying cosy, warm and sheltered in their deep straw bed barns. We begin the process of housing them in mid-October and by the beginning of November, they will all be indoors. This year we have decided not to calve our herds in autumn, opting for spring calving only so mothers and calves can take full advantage of the lush spring grass.


The heavy rain brought by Storm Babet caused devastating floods to homes and farmland across the UK and our team has the utmost sympathy for all those suffering. Flooded fields can lead to trapped livestock, rotting crops and difficult times for farming communities. Parts of both our organic farms in Daylesford and Wootton were flooded, but thankfully our wetland and flood plains took the brunt and prevented anything too severe. We were in the middle of sowing winter wheat and barley and will try again when we get a dry spell.


Wet weather is good news for some though. Our Wilderness Wetland on our farm is a 17-acre field alongside the River Evenlode, which provides a lovely watery habitat for wading birds and wildflowers. Since we began our Wilderness Wetlands project around 15 years ago, we have noticed an increase in floral diversity and have spotted more than 40 species of birds, including peregrine falcon and osprey. Read more about our Wilderness Wetland project here.


We’ve been preparing our bees for winter by reducing their hives to two boxes with plenty of their own honey stores to feed them through the winter months. Mice like to hibernate in the warm hives, and can chew through wax and honey, so we install mouse guards to discourage this nuisance. The tasks of cleaning and treating the spare boxes and replacing the foundation in the frames is part of the crucial preparation for next spring, when the bees will start collecting pollen again.


“How much do I need?” and “How do I cook it?” are the two questions our butchers are most frequently asked, and they are always happy to share their knowledge. It is worth visiting our butcher’s counters in London and the Cotswolds for advice, whether you are planning a special meal or are curious to try something new.

It’s amazing how everyone seems drawn to hearty roasts, nourishing casseroles and slow-cooking cuts around now – as though there is a collective, instinctive craving for comfort food as soon as the seasons change. Our butchers have certainly noticed a seasonal shift, with things like lamb shoulders and whole chickens more popular now than just a few weeks ago. Game is an incomparable flavour of autumn, and we’ve got pheasant, partridge and venison from our organic estate in Wootton, Staffordshire – all excellent options at this time of year, particularly venison as its meat is exceptionally versatile; suitable for both quick pan-frying and long, slow braises.

Steaks are popular throughout the year and our new 35-day dry-aged steaks are perfect for cosy suppers on dark, chilly evenings.

Come and chat to our butchers soon, we so enjoy hearing about and helping with your feasts.


As far as our Cookery School team is concerned, it's never too soon to start getting excited about Christmas – getting organised with your planning and preparation early helps to make sure the big day is calm and enjoyable. To help you master the perfect turkey this year, our Tutors will be doing three 30-minute "Turkey Tips" demonstrations at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm at the Christmas Preview evening on Thursday 2nd November – and we are delighted to offer 10% off all Cookery School courses booked that day. 

If you are hosting Christmas this year, our full day course The Perfect Christmas Table covers elegant starters, delicious accompaniments, imaginative puddings as well as centrepieces - we're doing several this year, on 8th & 25th November, and 2nd & 9th December.

Festive preparations aside, our courses always follow the seasons, so we are leaning into the game and venison season, with a full day Game Preparation & Cooking course on 10th November. There's also a Seasonal Dinner Partycourse on 18th November and Seasonal Salads on 22nd November.

We hope you can join us soon, to learn new skills and inspire your cooking.

“While the evenings have been growing darker, October days have been brightened by blue skies, golden afternoons and vibrant, seasonal produce. We’ve harvested lots of squash and cavolo nero from the market garden, and it’s been exciting to see baskets of shiny foraged cobnuts, heritage apples and Italian chestnuts arrive in the farmshops too. Our delivery of Vacherin Mont d’Or is an exciting moment every year. This rich, runny French cheese can only be made during the winter, so it really is something to savour and celebrate. I like to serve it for lunch on a chilly day, simply baked until molten alongside lots of crusty bread, boiled potatoes and cornichons to dip straight into the box.”