From The Farm
As the summer turns to autumn the potato harvesting continues with the lifting, moving from ‘bakers’ to second crop new potatoes, which were planted in the summer immediately after the early crop new potatoes were lifted, effectively two crops in one season. The onion harvest will start in late September with the onions being windrowed. This is where the onion is pulled from the earth and left on the surface in rows so the sun (hopefully) and the wind can start to set the outer skin of the onion, This process is continued when the onion is brought into the sheds where humidity and temperature are controlled to ensure your Suffolk onions have a nice brown set skin.
Autumn’s bounty on the farm is the forager’s dream. The season kicks off with walks along local footpaths and the chance to stock the freezer with Britain’s very best blackberries, simply because Suffolk has the most sun so we have the sweetest. Following on, is the crab apple; scour woods and hedges for this ‘mini’ yellow apple and use it to make a delicate pink jelly that’s divine with a roast or on toast. Pick hazelnuts in late September, and then chestnuts a little later, before the squirrels get ‘e. Rosehips in Octobver for a distinctive syrup packed with vitamin C. Don’t forget a few sloes, bullace or wild damsons for the chance to make a gin infusion for the winter months. But autumn’s crowning glory, is the wild mushroom, with dozens of different varieties sprinkled under shaded canopies, they’re foodie manna. Just make sure you go out with an experienced gatherer.
On the meadows the herd will be munching on the autumn growth of grass brought on by the rain and in early September those cows due to calve later in the autumn will be weaned, which they are pretty glad of as some of their calves are nearly as big as their mums. As long as the weather stays good the cows will remain out on the pasture until the start of the winter when they will head out of the weather and into the sheds, where they will eat the maize silage which was harvested in the autumn and ‘clamped’ so that it’s slowly made more digestible by anaerobic digestion. So let’s hope for a warm sunny autumn with the odd shower of rain to keep the grass growing so that the cows can spend as long outside as possible, not so good for the gardeners who are fed up with mowing their lawns!