Misty mornings and warm sunny days once more have been a very welcome change from the cloudy skies of August.  After such a wet and cool July and August we have welcomed the warmth and sunshine of this week, as has nature itself.  The blackberries are beautiful – plump, sweet and juicy, as are the damsons, and the apples are sufficiently matured to be added to crumble with them. Always enjoyable!

It has also been quite a busy time for the animals. We have been weighing the lambs, with a useful number now good and fat, and looking very bonny indeed. After a few cases of fly strike in the flock, and with the very able help of our vet student volunteer Lottie from Haper Adams, we decided to apply an anti-fly spray to the lambs. Dealing with fly strike is one of the worst jobs on the farm, and must be very painful for the poor sheep, so it is important that we do all we can to prevent it.

The cattle have been moving around the farm, and sadly, there has been a resurgence of New Forest Eye in both herds – to coincide with the hot weather. Understandably, our normally placid Herefords were quite reluctant to move from the shade of their field to be moved to the barn to be treated and were unusually hard work! Despite this, we did manage to treat all the affected animals, and hope that we don’t see too many more cases.  As for the ‘young stock’, we are very pleased to have sold 7 of the oldest to Daylesford Organic, and they are leaving the farm this week.

Every now and then it is important to introduce new stock to the farm to keep the bloodlines healthy and strong. We are looking forward to collecting around 30 pedigree organic Llyns later in the year, to bring our breeding ewe flock up a little bit following the trials of covid. Alice has also begun the search for a new bull, as sadly ‘Dwayne’ our current chap, is now in danger of being introduced to his daughters. We will be very sad to see him go as he is extremely good natured and has given us many good calves – we will try and find a new home for him if we can.

Friday last week was not only a beautiful day, but also the perfect day for a second spraying this year of compost spray 500 across the whole of the farm, and the poly tunnel and veg garden too. The prep 500, as you may remember, helps to promote soil microbial life. The 500 is applied to the pastures with a sprayer which is attached to the back of the tractor.

Our first sprayer held only 400 litres which meant that to spray the whole farm it needed to be refilled 5 times. This took up a lot of time. So, we invested in a second larger sprayer which holds 1000 litres and requires refilling only twice.

Special spray nozzles were also purchased from Australia! The nozzles are specifically designed for 500, and spray a fine mist upwards, in a lovely fan shape. Following the Maria Thun planting calendar, spraying of 500 is ideally carried out here during Northern Planting time, on a leaf day, in the afternoon, on a day with no rain and little wind! This is to maximise the benefits of the spray, but as you can imagine, meeting all these criteria is not always possible.

Having now used the last of last year’s 500, our plan is to make some more, and to dig up our prep 501 in readiness for spraying the silica preparation.

We are actually hoping to be joined on Saturday 16th by any willing volunteers to make the 500 and bury it for the winter! The BDAA are advertising the day here https://www.biodynamic.org.uk/event/biodynamic-on-farm-day-rush-farm-worcs-16th-sept-2023/and we’ll let you in for free 😉

The veg garden continues to be bountiful, for which we feel very grateful. The potatoes have been dug and stored, and we are making plans to store apples this year too – something we have not been able to do for a decade! As for the beetroot… have you ever found large round holes in your beetroot? Several of ours have burrows in them, which we have discovered are home to families of woodlice! Who knew woodlice loved beetroot?!

When we were kids, the talk of an Indian Summer sounded so perfect – and we are now, at least, here we in Worcestershire, we are now in September, with hot days and warm nights; with no warning, and we expect equally little warning when it gets cold once more! However, we shall do our very best to enjoy it!

Indian Summer by Emily Dickenson

These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, —
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!

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