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A Week on the Estate: Flowers for the Squire, Census for the Buffs, Winter for the Reds

The winter solstice may be nigh with short days and raw weather, but we’re looking forward to festive cheer and all manner of new growth in the year to come.


In March 2020, we’ll be launching the Saturday Club for 13-17-year olds. Young people will be given the chance to earn while they learn. They’ll find out exactly what goes into running a rural estate – learning the land while earning a wage and, of course, working hard.


Housekeeper Jacqui Rhodes treated the Hall to some warming, home-made soup. Both the beef soup and the carrot soup featured ingredients produced right here on the estate. Jacqui also arranged for a beautiful bouquet to be laid on the grave of the Squire – Adrian Massingberd-Mundy – to celebrate his life and legacy at this special time of year.

The estate helped the Lincolnshire Buff Poultry Society with its national census of this handsome breed of chicken. Our current population stands at two hens, six pullets and two cockerels, and all being well we’ll be breeding more in 2020.


Tanya and Roy at The Old Rectory Guest House have been working hard in the run up to Christmas, hosting festive afternoon teas and burnishing their reputation for old-fashioned hospitality in a beautiful setting. Nursery Manager Leanne Gains is rolling her sleeves up an extremely busy year to come; creating an exciting new nursery business – Little Ormsbees – in The Old Schoolhouse by September.


Midwinter is a busy time for our Herd Manager, John Crutchley, and his hard-working team. Whereas some modern cattle breeds spend much of their time indoors, the Massingberd-Mundy Lincoln Red herd live outdoors from March-April to November, depending on the temperature. The herd is currently sheltering from the worst of the winter at Keal Yard, and calving begins in January; all of which increases the team’s workload dramatically.

On a typical winter day, the team starts at 7am. The cattle are freshly bedded and fed, which takes until noon. The rest of the day is spent on such essential housekeeping as bringing in feed and bedding for the next day, maintaining machinery, weighing and checking the health of cattle, liaising with the vet if needed and keeping paperwork in order.


South Ormsby’s herd enjoys ‘high-health’ status – the highest standard of cattle health that can be registered. Their winter feed is haylage sourced entirely from the estate; year-round, the herd are sustained by the land at South Ormsby.


In any given year, the bulls are joined to the cows and heifers by 14th April. The reliable gestation period of 9 months and 1 week means that John is guaranteed an intensely busy calving-season in January. New calves do not keep regular office-hours, so John must often return to the herd at night.

John normally manages to calve every new arrival personally. Our ancient breed of Lincoln Reds only requires veterinary assistance in 2% of births. They’re so long-established that nature has had centuries to iron out the genetic kinks. With other cattle, by contrast, commercial cross-breeding aimed at producing larger calves can cause problems for cows lacking the right adaptations.


Born on a farm, John Crutchley has spent most of his 71 years in agriculture – it is a life-long vocation. While he finds the calving intensely rewarding, it is also hard work. Happily, new technology may soon help him to spend less time on his toes in the middle of the night. He’s evaluating remote-camera monitoring, so that he can check all is well without leaving the comfort of his warm bed.