So, we find ourselves in July, having experienced the “hottest June on record”, although we can all hear Adrian reminding us that the records actually only properly began to be kept in the 1950’s… nevertheless, there is no doubt for us here trying to live in harmony with nature, our weather patterns are changing, and the negative consequences of that are becoming greater.
Turning to more cheerful news, the shearers arrived! The barn was a buzz of activity. Yes again, the shearers demonstrated their skills and strength. The speed and fluidity with which they work is impressive to watch. On their feet they always wear what look like slippers. These are suede moccasins. Footwork is everything when you are shearing, and so the right footwear is essential. The shearer is constantly moving their feet as they go round the sheep, holding, cradling and controlling the animal and the moccasin gives good feel and grip, not only on the sole of the shoe, but also on the sides. They are more flexible and lightweight than a heavy work boot, and the flat soles means it is less of a strain for the back. This soft slipper is also more comfortable and less stressful for the sheep. Within no time at all the ewes and rams were transformed! Our job is to roll up the fleeces, removing any dirty bits, and stuff them into large sacks that are provided by the Wool Board. The wool is then taken to Bromyard where the Wool Board weigh it and let us know how much we will be paid. It costs £2 to shear a sheep. A fleece weights roughly two kilos. At 50-70p a kilo, we receive around £1.20 per fleece – a loss of 80p! There have been some good years regards the price of wool, but not for some time.
Alice and Brendan are now here full time, Alice having completed her year on her farm in Oxfordshire, by no means an easy 12 months, but a lot of things learnt, and experiences which are now under her belt, all of which should all fill her with confidence that she can do anything she sets her mind to! She will be taking responsibility for the vegetable garden in field 11. Tim (garden) has left it in impeccable condition, with beautiful, friable loamy topsoil. Never fear, the clay is still there beneath, but how lovely for it so be so well hidden!
We have had one case of fly strike, but Tim’s (farm) keen eyes spotted it early, so we are at the moment, on top of this, but we do have to remain vigilant. The docks the lambs feasted on last year they don’t seem to enjoy so much when the flowers are more seed than petal – something to note; the cattle continue to move fields every 7-10 days, and the pasture, thankfully, continues to grow. The field we set aside for Hay will now have to be haylage, but we stay ‘mellow’ – it is as it is. In the garden, everything to enjoy looking at, or eating, continues to be bountiful – the cooler nights and rain of the last fortnight helping a great deal with this.
We won’t mention the England test match cricket – but we were reminiscing earlier today upon the days when we could get to Worcester’s ground to watch the Sunday match, and still, somehow, everything on our to-do lists still got done. Time moves so very differently these days it feels.
To end this time, a poem written for Rush Farm by our visitor Teresa, who came for a tour with Brendan in early June – our apologies that we were not able to share her work with you sooner, but we have very much enjoyed it amongst ourselves already!
Rush Farm Visit in Early JuneRush Farm in early June shows no mow May;
Contented cows with calves have fresh grass and play.
Many stems and umbellifers sway in the breeze,
Wild flower heads and grasses reach adult knees.
Use of solar panels and ground source heat,
Complement organic farming of meat;
The skylark’s lofty song is quite a treat,
As backing sound to where businesses meet.
Hawthorn hedges give safe places for nests,
Rabbits and hares have hiding space to rest.
Snipe hide in damp of scrape, made with natural look;
Blue and red damsel-flies dance by the brook.
Fields fertilised by ewes with lambs; and cows,
Whose horns are encouraged in growth – and how!
Mycorrhizal partners work in earth together
Roots and micro-fungi rely on worms and weather.
Tiny fish dart in brook-water clear and bright,
Birds catch midges; all are part of natures might.