What lovely weather we have had, even if change had come by Friday afternoon. The blackthorn in the hedges is now in full bloom, the violets (both white and violet) and primroses together with the daffodils are putting on a brave show. The pastures are coming back well. The bird life is both enormously active and noisy! The sparrows around the farmhouse chatter away all day, our resident buzzards circle overhead mewing and at night the cries of at least two types of owls accompany me when Flash and I walk around the business park to check all is well.
Oddly we quite often come across frogs on the concrete drive – where they might come from and where they think they are going is a mystery. On the pond in addition to moorhens nesting we now have a pair of mallard ducks – let’s hope there is no competition between them. The brook, which runs straight for most of its length within the farm, is now, thanks perhaps to recent years’ flooding, making its own meander. It is good to watch flowing water do what flowing waters does, but the collection of flotsam and jetsam to be cleared is rather saddening.
Life on the farm has been rather dominated by thoughts on how we might improve the productivity of our pastures. What is clear from our records is both that, productivity from some fields is falling, and, that re-growth varies a lot.
Aside from reading and talking amongst ourselves, I had a very useful conversation with the lead farm adviser from the Soil Association. Part of our discussion has been about dealing with drainage and part about seed mixes – the latter complicated somewhat by the differing needs of our sheep and our cattle. We are now clear that when it comes to re-seeding, we shall return to more traditional grasses together with herbs. As far as the drainage is concerned it is clear we need to re-visit the issue of compaction, which means, digging pits in every field to explore whether panning exists or not.
On the physical front, the activity had been about moving our various groups of sheep onto new fields – and recording this. Chris is exploring the possibility of finding a software solution which will make it far quicker to calculate the use of individual fields.
Next week the lambs will be weighed again and hopefully there will be a number ready for sale. We calculate we have enough bedding straw to enable us to keep the cattle inside till the end of the month but will need to buy in more for lambing, now only 3 to 4 weeks away.
We are determined this year to achieve an even more active spraying programme with the biodynamic preparations. To that end, Chris has found the money for a second-hand ATV and we will buy a sprayer that it can pull. So often our spraying programme is knocked back by the ground being too wet to run the tractor over it. The ATV is of course much lighter, as will be the sprayer, so can go on the fields when the tractor cannot.
On Saturday the new vehicle was in use when Chris, Tieran and the grandchildren checked the animals. The other bonus of having this vehicle is that it should prolong the lives of both the Defender and the tractor, and, be cheaper in terms of the fuel it uses.