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A Week on the Estate: Wold Walking, Developing Jerky & Civil War Memories

This week, we’ve seen both fascinating insights into our heritage and exciting progress towards a sustainable and enterprising future.  The choppy autumnal weather has taken its toll on some mature trees in full leaf, but both workers and walkers have enjoyed some beautiful blue skies.

The estate’s ‘Walk the Wolds’ initiative has proved a boon to walkers. Damian and Leah Furlong were pictured testing the ‘Walk the Wolds’ selfie-board at the new Sheep Dip Paddock information station. They met Tetford wild campers Jamie, Clare, Tristan and Ethan, who’d cycled down to Sheep Dip Paddock to pick a trail, park their bikes and explore our lovely countryside on foot.

It was a tad wet for the Saturday Club last weekend but our young workers were ready for whatever the weather threw at them. They weeded the courtyard, picked apples and foraged logs for the biomass boiler. They also learned a lot during Herd Manager John Crutchley’s enrichment talk. In particular, they learned that no audience is more attentive than a paddock-full of curious Lincoln Reds.

Damian Furlong and his daughter Leah with a selfie frame

When nature gives you greengages, make greengage wine! We put an abundant crop to good use and if you’d like to follow in our footsteps, start by mixing 3kg of greengages in a bucket with 5 litres of water and 1kg of sugar. Next, add yeast and nutrients and leave for a week, then transfer to another bucket and leave for another week. Finally, transfer to a demijohn for a month, then bottle it to enjoy at Christmas!

Keira Rhodes, our new beef-unit apprentice, is working hard to develop the estate’s own range of jerky from the sustainable, grass-fed, Lincoln Red beef that has secured a fine reputation. Her current priority is researching and refining flavour combinations, and initially we’ll be asking our readers if they prefer their jerky with a chilli heat or a salty tang.

Keira’s jerky is made the traditional way; trimmed till it’s lean, cut into strips and thoroughly dried.  Originating with the Quecha people from the Andean nations of South America, jerky is a traditional way of preserving meat from seasonal hunting. Today it’s a popular way of using sustainably sourced meat as a high-protein, low-calorie treat.

On this day 369 years ago, the English Civil War ended with a Parliamentarian victory at Worcester which obliged Charles II to escape to France. Last week, we talked about the role of the estate’s founder, Sir Drayner Massingberd, in the 1643 Battle of Winceby near Horncastle. This inspired several of our readers to shared local memories of the conflict and we’d love to hear some more.

By one estimate, the English Civil War caused 200,000 deaths in England alone, equivalent to 4% of the population and proportionately worse than the First World War. Clean deaths in conflict were rare and 300 years before antibiotics many combatants died from sepsis. Towns or fortifications were ‘slighted’, i.e., razed to the ground, by either side, and where farmers and their families crossed paths with soldiers, they were lucky if only their crops were taken.

This left an impression which lingers today. Sue Forsyth’s grandmother used to tell her that any ruin within 200 miles of the Wolds had been ‘knocked about a bit by Cromwell’. Adrian Stockdale reminded us that Campaign Top and Campaign Farm were named for the Battle of Winceby, possibly because Cromwell’s forces camped there before the battle while the Lord Protector enjoyed dinner at the early South Ormsby Hall.

Finally, if you’ve been enjoying the outdoors this week, particularly with a picnic, you may have come across tetchy, clumsy and sugar-hungry wasps (Vespula vulgaris is pictured). Annoying as they are, spare a thought for them; they’ve worked hard all summer and this is their last hurrah.

Worker wasps are female and spend the summer predating on caterpillars, aphids and other garden pests. They deliver the fresh meat to developing larvae and are rewarded with a secreted sugar rush. When autumn looms, the larvae have developed, the queens-in-waiting have hunkered down for winter and the workers have no more work to do. They are left to their own devices; jobless sugar-addicts with weeks to live, who may well have done your garden ecosystem a power of good in their brief lives.