The harvest supper was a success with quizmaster Vince once again showing why his quizzes are the best. Our thanks goes to Vince, Christine, Malcolm, Sue, Colin and Valerie for their organisation and service for the Harvest supper as well as the super quizmaster Vince wowing us with a colour picture round and several other hard general knowledge themed rounds. Who knew who was Time Magazine featured lady of the year in 1952 amongst other items.
The church looks lovely with the flowers and the local produce and many people have donated dried and packet food for the foodbank collection. The service was led by Jill and lots of others helped with readings but especially Libby who gave a heartfelt speech about what it is like to be a modern dairy farmer. It put their jobs into perspective to help the rest of us understand the magnitude of the work these independent farmers complete day in and day out.
‘Our Life on the Farm’
Jill asked me if I would give a brief run through of our life on the farm, and in a moment of weakness I said “yes”, I just cant say NO to Jill !
No two days are ever the same, there are good days and bad days, so here is just an insight into our small traditional family farm.
We have a herd of 120 pedigree Ayrshire cows which are bred and reared on the farm alongside 180 young stock – some dairy, some beef cattle. On average each cow produces 7000 litre of milk every year, but for a cow to milk she has to calve every year. Cows love nothing more than to calve in the early hours of the morning. Fortunately my husband Andrew has perfected the art of getting in and out of bed without disturbing me but occasionally he needs extra help. Seeing the birth of a new life is one of the greatest joys – one of which I don’t think I will ever tire.
Milking cows happens twice a days, 5am and half past 3 in the afternoon. It can be a quiet, calm atmosphere with only the beat of the milking machine, but during the summer months with the introduction of freshly calved heifers, irritated by flies and the heat, it does feel much more chaotic with cows kicking and newbies jumping as they are first introduced to their new regime. Fortunately, they settle in quite quickly and a calmness resumes.
Once milking, which takes about 2.5 hours is over the cows return to the comfort of a deep straw bedded yard and an unlimited amount of forage to eat. However, unlike some herds, ours graze the grassland pastures as soon as the weather permits. Delighted to be free from the confines of their shed they frolic in the sunshine and graze the fresh spring grass.
With the workload easing as the cows go out, it is time to catch up with seasonal jobs whilst continuing to feed and care for the beef cattle. The early summer months can be stressful as we watch the forecast, constantly trying to predict the best time to cut the grass for silage. It is critical that the grass is cut at its optimum stage in growth in order to produce the best silage – our winter feed for the cattle. Dodging the showers can be difficult – every year is different and the weather can be our friend or enemy. There's always a sigh of relief when the silage clamp is full and sheeted up, but then there is the straw to cart – the winter bedding for the cattle, followed by maize to harvest as more winter forage. Maize is an expensive crop to grow, and more sensitive to British climate than grass, so mistake can’t be made.
Together with the seasonal jobs of sowing and harvesting come the more mundane maintenance jobs such as weed spraying, fencing and deep cleaning of the parlour, whilst continuing to keep on top of the every increasing paperwork and the 6 monthly Bovine Tuberculosis test.
As I said in the beginning, there are good days and bad days. The safe delivery of a heifer calf from one of our favourite cows inevitably makes the hard work worthwhile but an old saying which I learned from a very young age was “where you have livestock you have deadstock”. As farmers we care passionately about our animas, administering medicines and preventative treatments when necessary. But despite our best efforts, we have to accept losses, but this doesn’t get any easier despite the number of years of experience we have had.
Life on our farm is at times tiring and stressful and we like many other small dairy farmers feel undervalued by our milk processors who continue to cut the price of our quality product whilst our overheads of feed, bedding, water, fuel and electricity continue to escalate!
BUT, we love our farming life, I couldn’t imagine living without our livestock. They enable us to live in the countryside and as a family farm, we work together, 3 generations – my 80 year old in-laws, ourselves, and 17 & 12 year old children. Despite its challenges we are grateful to those of who support British Farmers and I hope and pray that God will continue to give us the strength to continue to do the job we so love to do.
Libby Hall, local farmers
Today after a lovely service led by Fiona Beadle we had our postponed Harvest celebration. Originally due on the day of our late Queens funeral we altered the format to a bring and share lunch after our morning service. A lovely spread was ready complete with puddings and we all sat down to have a very convivial meal. Even our own minster Rev. Nick dropped in on his way home.
Today was our Harvest celebration. Both of our services were led by our own minister Rev Nick Jones. The morning service reminded us to not worry about all the things in life which might never happen and to trust in the way we are provided for as well as singing a number of traditional harvest hymns. The evening songs of praise service was joined by the choir and the hymns were a mix of newer and traditional ones along with Nick reminding us of the beauty of the morning skies relating to the hymn "Christ whose glory fills the skies" by Charles Wesley. This was followed by the hymn "Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom" which linked his dog walking early morning exercises to Cardinal Newman who is buried on Cofton Hill near to where he walks. After the service we had tea and coffee.
As it is the eve of the State Funeral of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth we returned to the chapel for short prayer and two minutes of national silence at 8pm. Followed by the national anthem "God Save the King", many singing this for the first time.
Requiescet in pace
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor
21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022
An early harvest service today lead by Pauline. She gave us lots of facts about artichokes and how sharing our fruits, flowers and vegetables helped our neighbours and showed our care for others. We were also entertained by two local farmers called Silas and Amos who sang a short well known ditty to us all.
Sadly due to a rainy start we moved venues back to the chapel for our Harvest Festival service and lunch today. A good number of us praised God for the blessings we have with our food offerings being delivered to the Tamworth food back next week. After the service our now legendary question master Vince put forward another challenging and tightly fought quiz which had only points in each of the four teams before the picture round clinched victory for one team. Our thanks to all those who bought our food to share, the washing up and tea crew and of course our quizmaster Vince.
A very different service today reported on by some of our younger attendees.
"Today was harvest at church. Anne and Mike took the service. The people took fruit and vegatables. The food is going to Tamworth food bank."
Several boxes with a large quantity of donated tins and packet food is now being stored prior to being delivered. Many thanks to all those who have donated.
Two services on the Sunday celebrated our Harvest Festival. Food donated will make it way to a food bank. Monday evening our quiz master Vince delivered his much anticipated questions after the Harvest meal ably served by our The Coggins and Waggs crew. Our thanks goes to all who were involved to make another memorable year celebrating Gods harvest gifts.
We enjoyed two services on Sept 30th to celebrate Harvest. Gifts were brought in the morning ,when our minister Rev. Farai, officiated. In the evening Rev. Peter Bates encouraged us to think about being grateful for all our food, not just to God, but also farmers, packers, lorry drivers and shop assistants. He urged us to share with others in the UK and abroad. Indeed the choir sang a hymn about sharing food.
Our gifts have gone to Tamworth food bank, where we know they will be appreciated by those who are struggling at present. It is awful to realise how many people in our country need the support of food banks to survive.
The Harvest supper on Monday evening made a profit of £112. More importantly it was a fun event, producing lots of laughter and conversation. As usual Vincent Coggins directed proceedings and the rest of the family prepared and served the meals with great aplomb. We are grateful to them all.
Two celebratory services taken by Rev Farai Mapamula and Rev Karen Webber. The church was beautiful as ever showing off the local produce and flowers as well as some tapestry pictures. The dahlias were given by Arthur and the tapestry work was completed by the family of our church auditor Gill Mayberry. Gladys Morris was Gills Mother and her amazing talent for crochet, knitting and tapestry continued to be worked well into her 90's when failing eyesight sadly forced her to stop. However she did live to receive her 100th birthday telegram and her skills continue in the family with her Grandaughter Amy completing the balloon and boat tapestry which was also on display. The evening service also featured a composition by Rutter beautifully performed by the choir. The traditional coal, water and harvest loaf did make an appearance at the evening service to complete the celebrations. The loaf has now gone to Small Heath to be used at their Harvest service next weekend.
A total of £!42 was raised over the festivities. The tinned and dried foods collected at both services are to be donated to Tamworth food bank.
Whitacre Congregation is a vibrant mix of young and old who enjoy meeting for Sunday worship. Do come and join us.