Christmas is now upon us, and at Newmiln Farm, working overtime to get all the jobs done is part of the festive spirit. It comes with the profession, I suppose.
Meat needs to be procured and packaged, orders need to be arranged and delivered, and a single last-minute call can rewrite our plan. We received a call yesterday for a Christmas turkey, from the Scottish Borders. To avoid a three-day delivery process, we contacted their family, going through everyone’s travel plans until we found a way to make the delivery quicker.
Thankfully, we worked out a solution. Our staff have had their patience tested and put in extra hours to get everything out on time. Our gratitude to them can’t be quantified. And they have been indispensable this last year, through the challenges Newmiln Farm has faced.
When we learnt about the avian influenza epidemic, we watched our turkey flock with trepidation. One of our staff witnessed the impact of this epidemic first-hand, during a visit to the Hebrides: rafts of gannets, dead in the water. We went to great lengths to improve biosecurity and as a result this year’s flock made it to December without contracting anything.
It’s a relief for us that no customer is going to lose their Christmas dinner. At the same time, it also reminded us that good biosecurity is important in any situation, not just when it affects us directly.
We haven’t been as lucky with everything. This last year’s cost of living crisis has hit the agricultural sector hard: the farm’s finances have been squeezed by the rising costs of fuel, food, and equipment. We were looking to replace our old, battered delivery van with a new model, but it might have to wait until next year.
The farming life is not one that people take up for the money. Fortunes can move like a yo-yo in this business. Newmiln has witnessed its share of struggles, and when they happened, we have done the only thing we could. We continued to produce organic meat for as many people as possible, to the best of our abilities.
When all our produce is packed, all our orders are delivered, and we can finally put our feet up and celebrate Christmas, we start looking inward. We all reflect on ourselves and the year we’ve been through. None of us will ever have a perfect year; all of us have faced hardship, particularly in 2022.
But all of us have also had successes, things which others would consider themselves lucky to have. Our poultry has, so far, survived a major disease outbreak.
Our business is bringing good food to people at Christmas. And we are incredibly fortunate for our acres of nitrogen-fixing clover pasture, without which our food would have none of its richness or texture. This isn’t a matter of measuring up your successes next to others. It’s about counting ourselves fortunate for what has worked and doing what we can to improve what hasn’t worked as well.
Merry Christmas everyone.