The tractor was useable again and the topping programme was continued – the tractor had sat in a field for four days with a puncture last week! The weather allowed field 4 to be drilled and we were delighted by the tilth that the seed was sown in.
Determination of the state of the pastures led to reviewed decisions as to which fields to hold back for a late haylage cut. Growth in the field in which the energy company had been working is good and the care they have taken in filling the deep ditches and replacing the top soil is a real positive.
The shearers eventually arrived and with so many to shear were here for most of the day. The outcome is that we have eleven full ‘sheets’ to be sent to the wool collection centre in Bromyard – ‘sheets’ by the way just means very large sacks!
Information came back from the vets on both the worm burden and possible trace and minerals problems with the flock. We have had to drench both lambs and ewes, which is not unusual, and may have to provide selenium support. Unlike last year, cobalt does not seem to be a problem but it is perhaps not surprising that low levels of selenium were found since we had to take similar preventative action a few years ago.
For those who are interested in these matters soil, this part of Worcestershire contains high levels of molybium which acts in a negative way against stock being able to get the nutrients they need. Some of you may ask why blood tests. The reality is that soil analysis – leaving aside the assumptions that soil conditions in any field are the same in all parts of the fields – and forage analysis does not actually tell us what nutrition stock is actually getting from its feeding.
I wrote last week about the joy of seeing swifts. On reflection I realised that I had failed to recognise the multitude of other birds that may be found on the farm. Whether it be woodpeckers, owls or numerous little brown jobs wherever one is on the farm from 4 in the morning to 9.30 at night the sight and sound of our bird population is inspirational.
We wake every morning to the sound of the collared doves and the chattering of the hordes of house sparrows that live in the foliage that covers the house walls. I should also celebrate the amazing capacity of the moorhens in next doors pond to produce their ungainly chicks every year who risk their lives by coming from the pond across the drive into our front garden
I often mention sightings of hares. Astonishingly, last week we saw in one field a total of five at the same time. For those who enjoy bats – outside of course, rather than in our houses – dusk sees a multitude hunting along the hedgerow which borders themain ditch which runs past the house to the stream. Butterflies are about now also; this week I have seen the first cabbage whites and yellow ones whose name I ought to know!
Milly has re-joined us and we realised that if we were to avoid her collecting titbits rom all our tenants that we had to provide a secure ‘run’ for when she cannot be supervised. At night she and Flash coexist in our utility room as before.
We were, as everybody was, very distressed by the news from France. Samuel managed his concerns and was perhaps helped by having his first chances to doing some topping on our little tractor.
Planning agreement for the barn extension has been received and the deposit paid. This Autumn, given the number of cattle we expect to have, this extension had to go ahead.
Saturday was a very mixed day. Some topping in the morning, a successful second visit by the friends of Himbleton School (incidentally Boots and Rosie had excellent reports on their first year of school) and then the low point in the evening, which led to a need for me to go to hospital to be checked out. I was given the all clear and allowed home at 9.30 the next morning. The A&E department at the hospital in Redditch was under huge pressure – Saturday night busy, but they told us they have been exceedingly busy all week – and I have nothing but praise for the support and treatment I received and for those who think 24-hour service does not exist am happy to say it does in our local hospital.
Reluctantly I am going to take it easy for a week or so but have every confidence in Chris supported by Tim and Sam and certainly won’t exclude myself from the decision making process!