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Dry Wheat, Zesty Salsa & Bespoke Gin

After a spate of autumnal weather, the South Ormsby Estate began the week basking in the hottest bank-holiday weather on record. Cool, wet weather ten days earlier made it hard to imagine harvesting our wheat at the 15% maximum moisture content needed for commercial processing. The short heatwave gave Paul Barnes, Estate Manager, a precious opportunity.


In two days of hard work over the weekend, Paul and his team completed the harvest, finishing the last 19-hectare field at 9.34pm on Sunday, leaving Monday free for a well-earned rest. The intense heat changed the moisture content of the wheat from 15.6% at 10am on Saturday to 12.1% by 6.30pm. Luckily for our team, their combine harvester and tractors were air-conditioned.

On a smaller and very local scale, Beth, one of our graduates, and Jackie, our Housekeeper, took on the challenge of making different salsas from ingredients grown in South Ormsby’s Walled Garden. Jackie peeled her tomatoes and used more lime, giving her salsa a zestier edge. Beth’s use of garlic and unskinned, rich tomatoes lent her salsa an intense, pungent taste, more akin to a salad accompaniment. The ready availability of fresh, organic ingredients helped us to create some really exciting flavours.

Chris Brooks has been working hard to fill the shoes of our Hall Steward, Craig Cuppleditch, who is enjoying a well-earned holiday. Chris found time between jobs to relax on the lawn in a deckchair with a bottle of Massingberd-Mundy Golden Amber bitter in hand. He clearly knows how to find a good work-life balance.

Maintenance and refurbishment continue apace. A concrete floor was laid for the biomass boiler. Indoors, the skilled craftsmen from Abbey Joinery of Horncastle have been tackling dry rot in our office windows. To preserve rather than replace these very old window frames, the joiners are excising the affected wood and adding new sections selected and crafted to be in keeping with the original.


Our graduate trainees continue to thrive and swapped roles this week. Finn Bracey is now shadowing Caron Ementon, our Heritage Interpreter and Administrator, while Annabelle Jaspal is shadowing our Housekeeper, Jackie Rhodes. Finn and Annabelle also examined the estate’s petty-cash book from 1699. While deciphering its contents is challenging, they learned that at the end of the 17th-century, the price of a pint of sherry or a carriage-ride to Chiswick were matters of vital importance.

The estate recently welcomed to its team Tristan Jørgensen as Gin Distillery Manager. Tristan moved to Lincolnshire from Islay – via Dorset and Cheshire – with his wife Lizzy and children Corey, Kian, Lottie and Pippa. Tristan’s exciting career has included running stills for Laphroaig single-malt whisky, beating out heather fires and running a restaurant kitchen, so we’re confident he can stand the heat in the distillery. Tristan has the exciting task of creating the estate’s own brand of gin. He’ll ensure that it’s classy, elegant, likely to appeal to gin purists and tied in a meaningful way to the history and tradition of South Ormsby.


Local entomologist David Shepherd continued to sample the estate’s insect life using a malaise trap, the small, suspended sampling tent visible on Lime Tree Walk. His current survey will establish a baseline from which the estate’s increasing biodiversity can be gauged in years to come. Insect life across the county may have benefited from timely hot, dry spells this year. In November, David will aim to produce his full summary for 2019. Keep watching this space for good news from the natural world.