#FarmBrewery: A Home For Winter
As you can imagine, it gets pretty cold up here over winter. While freezing temperatures, rain, winds and inevitable snow present challenges for our brewery, the seasonal climate is even harder on the farm.
As the night’s get longer and temperatures begin to drop in autumn, there’s plenty of winter preparation work to keep our farmer, Stuart busy. Originally from New Zealand, Stuart is no stranger to deer farming – part of the appeal for him to join us in the glen in 2017 was the burgeoning Achadunan Deer Farm project. Much of summer 2018 has seen Stuart working in the 140 acre deer fields, installing structures to help organise and control the heard as it grows – structures that were put to the test last month as we separated the young fawns from their mothers for the first time.
Our herd of spent-grain-fed red deer now counts just under two hundred head in total, with around ninety hinds (mature females), fifty stags and another fifty young deer, our ‘weaners’. With the cold weather threatening to hit Glen Fyne hard over the winter, Stuart took the decision to bring the youngsters into one of the sheds adjacent to the brewery for a few months, not only to wean them off their mother’s milk, but also to protect them from the worst of the seasonal climate.
The weaners, born in spring 2018, were carefully transferred from the fields to the shed using the new handling facility constructed earlier this year. After a short ride up the glen, they arrived at their newly-built wintering pen complete with feeding stations built into the walls, pallets to jump on, buoys to play with and plenty of room to make themselves at home. It’s been a couple of weeks now since they moved to their temporary residence, and the weaners are looking very comfortable already.
The young deer share the shed with 16 of our calves, also being weaned over the winter months. The steers and heifers are cross-breeds of our highland cows and shorthorn beef bull, Freddie; so while their mothers can safely spend the winter in the fields wrapped in their warm, shaggy coats, the youngsters and their dad, lacking the appropriate cold-weather attire for the Argyll winter, will spend the next few months in the cosy comfort of the shed. It’s been quite amusing seeing our highland bull Seamus, who will spend the winter out with the cows, taunting Freddie from the field behind to the shed – there were a couple of days where Stuart worried one of them might go through the wall to pick a fight with the other!
Pictured above is Fyne Ales founder, Tuggy Delap, looking on as Stuart assists the vet in dehorning the steers. While Tuggy has taken a step back from the day-to-day running of the brewery, she’s still very much involved in the farm and takes great pride in her animals and their welfare.
Both the calves and the deer will return to the fields in March or April next year, when the weather shows signs of turning for the better – by which time Stuart hopes to have expanded the deer park by another 25 acres to give the weaners their own space in the glen. For now, it’s a case of keeping them comfortable, keeping the spent grain dinners coming and riding out the worst of the weather in the safety of the shed.
We’ll be sharing more news (and photos) from the farm over the winter months – if you enjoyed this blog, be sure to give us a shout on social and let us know.