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By the Barn - June 2013

Posted: 1st Jun 2013

“Cut them in June they'll come again soon, Cut them in July they're sure to die”

so that saves us a bit of work, especially as the thistles, to which it refers, aren’t as forward as they perhaps would have been in other years and that goes for most crops in most places this year, meaning that the growing season is shorter.. Quality above quantity may well be the case if all goes well weatherise now

Of course this has a knock on effect with wildlife too-if a particular flower/plant food isn't available when the insect hatches what does it do? And then that means less insects about providing food for birds and their young.

You may have read about the two year suspension on using neonicatinoids on crops such as Oil Seed Rape, because of the potential threat to our Bees. Neonicatinoids are taken up by the whole plant in all its cells as opposed to being sprayed onto the plant. Having honey bees (as well as wild bumblebees) on the farm I have been concerned with the on-going scare stories. Beekeeper Leon considers the problem to be more of a combination of factors, such as various diseases, weather, lack of flowers etc and we have to remember that something else will have to be used in their place and that something will also have an effect too!

Our bees that survived the winter have the late spring and summer blossom to feed on at the moment and we have sown field beans which they love. Hopefully the spring honey, taken off at the end of June, will be plentiful and the hives healthy and flourishing.

Of course we mustn't forget other pollinators too, such as flies. Crane flies (daddy long legs) are active as Leatherjackets during this month, feeding on roots of plants, having pupated over the winter in the soil, before hatching out. Later on they can be quite destructive as grubs, but harmless as adult flies, feeding off nectar of plants, such as mayweed, Feverfew and Chamomile (all part of the daisy family, flowering in June and all looking very similar at first glance).

Silaging will begin as farmers try to make up feed stocks for the winter. Much more than anticipated was used and needed last winter and farmers with excess have, in some cases, freely donated to less fortunate farmers in the uplands.

But the grass has been slow to get growing too and needs some gentle regular showers and a pleasant even temperature to do well.

Spring calving will have finished and the calves will have all been tagged and dehorned/castrated as necessary whilst still young and manageable, as we’re getting older and weaker (or so it seems) and it's a very physical job to do, as each calf has to be caught individually and manhandled into a “calf crush”( a cage where they can be safely restrained and treated.). It's also very noisy, as the cows don't take too kindly to being separated from their babies and, for our safety, they have to be shut out from where we are working and instead bellow as loud as they can. But it's a short interlude before they are reunited with the calf, after giving us a chance to have a really close look, which we may not have had chance to do before.

Open Farm Sunday (www.openfarmsunday.co.uk) is on June 9th and, nationally, some working farms that don't normally open, will be doing so. I recommend if you are interested in any food or farming issues to visit one, as it's a chance for you to ask questions and see how your food is produced.

Milk production will be increasing as it does with the flush of grass and if there is more milk about then the price tends to decrease, but having had protests in the spring over below production prices paid to farmers and arguments over the inflexibility of farmer/processor contracts, it doesn't bode well and dairy farmers are still leaving the industry as they can't make their business pay.

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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