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A Week on the Estate: First Calf, Seed Drilling & Wild Birds

As the days gradually begin to lengthen, new life and new businesses are thriving at South Ormsby.


Out in the fields, reasonable if windy weather allowed us to get the seed drilling underway. At Keal Yard, the Lincoln Red herd welcomed its first arrival of 2020. Last year’s first calf joined us on 27th January, so this year’s was bright and early.


The calving went very smoothly and both mother and daughter are thriving. The bulls are joined to the cows and heifers by 14th April every year, and the reliable gestation period of 9 months and 1 week will make the last fortnight of January a busy time for the Keal Yard team.

At the Hall, Damian Furlong captured some memorable images of our birdlife, both hands-on and hands-off. Caron Ementon was put in charge of Damian’s tripod and camera and – from her warm perch in the office – managed to capture a greater spotted woodpecker raiding the bird nuts.


Outdoors, Damian took some great panning shots of greylag geese practising circuits on the lake. The largest European goose, the greylag is the ancestor of most domestic geese. Damian also bagged a fine sequence showing a kestrel tracking, stooping and bagging an unlucky rodent.


At the distillery, Tristan Jørgensen continued gearing up for commercial production with a delivery of 96% grain spirit and various botanicals. To link his beautifully crafted 120L still to the estate’s heritage, a poll was set-up inviting social media followers to name the still for one of two impressive ladies from our past.

The first is Philippa Mundy (1690-1762), the daughter-in-law of estate founder Sir Drayner Massingberd, and a friend of pioneering traveller, letter-writer and public-health campaigner, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The second is Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), a celebrated artist and one of two female founding members of the Royal Academy. Kauffman’s painting of Ann Blackall – wife of Charles Burrell – is one of the estate’s most significant works because of its size and provenance. The result will be announced next week.


Oliver Roberts has been busy promoting the estate’s laser-clay pigeon business at wedding fairs and country events – last weekend at Kelham Hall, this weekend at Revesby Races. Interest has been high and Oliver’s summer and autumn weekends will be pretty busy.


For a highly competitive flat rate of £250 plus £50 per hour, Oliver will stage a laser-clay shoot at any outdoor venue with at least 15m x 25m of open space. Five guests can shoot at any one time. Depending on the amount of tuition required, up to 200 guests can shoot over a two-hour session. Laser-clay can be staged in any weather apart from heavy rain or strong wind.


For added authenticity, Oliver uses real but deactivated firearms. While this generally adds to the experience, some American visitors to Oliver’s stand were baffled by a gun that couldn’t be fired. Oliver will be enlisting a helper this year to collect the clays, re-set the traps and keep things running smoothly and quickly. Night shoots using luminous clays are also available – an exciting new experience for shooters.