Aberdeen Angus beef from Aberdeenshire

Beef from Coldwells organic farm
delivered to your door

About the farm...

Coldwells Farm is run by Sarah Morbey and Paul Coates, ably assisted by their son Arthur when he is home from school!

We have been farming for 29 years, first in the Shetland Islands where we basically had the same set up with sheep and cattle but in 1998 we moved lock, stock and barrel to Coldwells where we have been farming organically for 18 years. We wanted to grow our own cereals, expand our herd and flock and fulfill a life long ambition to farm organically, so we were fortunate enough to find a bigger farm with much more fertile ground. The skills, resourcefulness and knowledge we acquired from crofting in Shetland we have put to good use here at Coldwells.

Cattle

During the summer months the stock live entirely on grass/clover which is free from artificial fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

Calves suckle with their mothers for 8/9 months before weaning. During winter cattle are loose housed in large airy sheds lying on deep straw beds and are fed home-produced organic silage, hay and some barley.

Most of our cattle are sold commercially except the 3 or 4 a year we direct sell through our website and farm store.  We have just begun a new contract  (September 2016) with Marks and Speners so that our beef will be available in all the Scottish M&S stores

Lambs

We also produce organic lamb. Lambs are born outside and stay with the ewes for 5 months grazing pastures for their entire life, they are not housed at all. As they slowly fatten, grass is supplemented by home produced organic silage, swedes and a little barley.

3 lambs

Mother and lambsEwe and lamb

Crops and Biodiversity

We also grow about 75 acres of organic barley which is used to feed the fattening cattle and ewes and lambs and the remainder is sold for breakfast cereal through an organic grain marketing co-op. We also grow half an acre of potatoes and five acres of swedes, or neeps as they are known locally. These are primarily for feeding the sheep but are delicious to eat and are available to buy.

Other animals around the farm are 10 assorted hens (some home hatched), two border collie dogs called Bexie and Jock (and until 2014 another dog called Jill who sadly passed away) and two cats called Murdo and Cludo.

We work the farm fulltime ourselves except for during lambing time in April when we generally have a live in veterinary student for a few weeks and at busy times like silage/hay making/harvest and shearing we work together with our farming neighbours to share machinery and labour.

Biodiversity and Organic Farming

Farmland birds have undergone large declines over the last few decades (60% from 1979-2004)(Donald et al 2001/jncc.defra.gov.uk ) and conventional farming methods are one of the main causes of this (not all though - road and motorway building, housing and urban development, concreting/paving gardens and increase in garden chemicals).  In a drive to increase productivity (encouraged by post-war governments) farming has undergone agricultural intensification resulting in biological simplification of the environment that depends on a lot of intervention to maintain it. eg: each year 31,000 tonnes of chemicals are used to control pests in non-organic farming systems. (soilassociation.org/whatisorganic/organicfarming/biodiversity)

Organic Farming is good for the birds and the bees:

Why? Because it encourages and depends on a diverse ecosystem to maintain soil fertility and pest control= higher biodiversity=more plant species=more seeds and insects and beetles= more birds.

Coldwells Farm has a large amount of biodiverity.  The barley crops have a rich mix of other plant species which provide a habitat for a diverse invertebrate community including the beautiful green dock beetle. (Hole et al Does organic farming benefit biodiversity)

In SUMMER Coldwells Farm has numerous pairs of house sparrows and starlings nesting in the farm buildings feeding on the large numbers of invertebrates around the farm and WINTER stubble fields are frequently used by large flocks of tree sparrows, eating weed seeds left after the barley harvest.  These three species are all of conservation concern due to large population decllines of more than 50% over 25 years (Baillie et al., 2010)

So when you buy beef or lamb from Coldwells Organic Farm you are also helping birds, beetles and other biodiversity.

Paul and Arthur

Coldwells Organic Wheat and Bread Making Experiment

This year we grew an acre of spring wheat as an experiment.  We are quite far north to consider growing it commercially because it ripens much later than barley and we were concerned we could lose the crop if the weather detriorated early in the combiningseason.

So we invested in an acres worth of seed.  We couldn't have been more successful.  It was a very strong, clean and productive crop and we have about  one of tonne of seed.  That is a lot of bread!  We are still experimenting with drying the bulk of it but for small amounts we have been drying it in the bottom oven of the Rayburn which works well.  Before that we have to winnow the chaff which is easily done with a couple of buckets and a bit of a breese.  We rediscovered an old stone ground hand operated mill which was bought about 30 years ago and survived our move from Shetland.  But it proved very difficult to grind as it had sort of siezed up inside and was extremely hard work to produce about 500gr enough to be worth making a loaf with. Since then it has fallen to pieces and we have ordered an electric one. However, we have battled on and produced about 5 loaves.  The first looked like a loaf from the stone age! followed by something ressembling a brick.  But by the third loaf we had cracked it and produced a beautiful 100% wholemeal, organic, home ground speciman which tasted delicious, good texture and consistancey and kept fresh for a whole week.  I was very surprised at that, I thought it would go stale very quickly.  I will try to add some photos later.

Wheat in the fieldBread - the finished product