This week we have experienced spring in England at its glorious best. The hedgerows are white with the blossoms of blackthorn and wild pear. Even in the villages around us magnolia and flowering cherries are making a fine show.
Even though it has been chilly most mornings and at times the wind sharp, it has been a pleasure to be out and about. So far this spring, apart from the lapwings, we seem to have grey partridge back on the farm and the hare population has spread from the fields at the back of the farm to fields much closer to the house.
The presence of trespassers fishing in the brook even suggests life there aside from the mallard ducks! Rather a surprise for we have not seen a heron recently nor seen kingfishers.
At the same time, there has been considerable human activity! Aside from the need to continue feeding stock, work has started to prepare for lambing. We aim to move the cattle from the barn on Monday so enabling the whole space to be available for lambing which in theory should begin in a couple of weeks. Having said that we already have 11 ‘unauthorised’ lambs! Today sees the start of our Woofer support. We collected Sophie who flew in from Paris this lunchtime. She was with us last year and we are all exceedingly happy to see her again!
For the first time since we started here we have been able to spray the BD prep.500 in April. Not all fields have been done but a very real start has been made. The 500 we buried last autumn looks to have all but ‘made’ but we shall need more so I have placed an order with a French supplier we have used before.
Thinking of financial matters, while there has rarely been a premium for organic meat, until recently there was one for beef. No longer it seems, Waitrose charges the same price for organic and non-organic mince. That is not encouraging!
Concerns about moss in a couple of fields has meant that grass harrowing was needed and this year for the first time we are having some fields aerated by the use of a machine which cuts slits in the ground some 2 to 3 inches in depth in rows some two feet or so apart and every 30inches apart in the rows. At the same time, we are exploring with several seed merchants what might be the best mix to sow in the field disrupted by the work related to the energy project. Obviously, this field will first have to ploughed and readied for drilling.
We want a mix which includes herbs and has very little rye grass included in it. This is largely because of dissatisfaction with the more conventional mixes we have used to date which seem somehow to thrive for only a short period and even at their best have not been nearly as productive as we hoped.
The ATV despite the fiendish noise it makes (which it has to be said disturbs the animals far less than the humans both on it and near bye) is already proving its worth. It can go to places that even now are not accessible by Land Rover, it’s wide ‘grass tyres’ and light weight mean less damage to the fields and its boot can carry the dogs or tools or wood for heating the house. Apart from the noise, the only real negative is the lack of doors which do somewhat detract from the pleasure of using it.