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By the Barn - February 2014

Posted: 3rd Feb 2014

By the barn

I can’t believe how quickly time is whizzing past, already we are in February (fill-dyke) and the days are noticeably lengthening. “As the days get longer, the cold gets stronger!” seems a popular saying in our household at the moment-old farmhouses are notoriously draughty(mainly because our old collie, Ben, insists on bashing his way in and never has learnt to shut the door behind him!).

Because we have open fires, any fallen wood is logged and collected and used as fuel. When we are laying hedges, the larger waste wood is brought home and thrown into a stable to dry out- that’s one thing about wood- it warms you twice, once when you’re logging and again when you burn it. Last summer we had to cut down a large percentage of self set Alder and, although very green and sappy, it has dried out now and burns very well. Ash is also a good wood for burning, whether green or seasoned and a few of our mature Ash trees lost branches in the gales over the last couple of months, so these will be used too, especially as they are across our field margins or fences(a bit more repair work necessary there!).

The fruit trees we had specially grown for us have come in their pots and we have to plant them before the earth warms up and the sap starts to rise in spring. These are a selection of local varieties or those with links to the county of Derbyshire.

On the farm its mostly routine work- dealing with the lambs as they are born and we have a few calves due too. We have to bed the livestock several times a week and Meg really enjoys this as she loves to catch the slices of straw and give them a good shake when I throw them around- beats having to use a fork to spread it. But she has to keep quiet when we’re in the sheep shed and can’t be allowed to misbehave then.

We had to buy in a few large bales of hay for the sheep, as they could eat silage, but it goes off after a few days, so hay is easier to leave handy and to use when needed.

The Queen Bees will be starting to lay eggs to increase numbers in the hives now and, hopefully, we will have successful broods, weather permitting. She will need feeding to enable her to continue to lay and, as we take the honey, we have to replace it with something- sugar fondant.

The Common Agricultural Policy is being discussed at the moment and our government has chosen not to implement the maximum 15% deduction from the farming budget, which funds rural enterprise and conservation schemes, but to levy 12% in England (Scotland less and Wales more- which, in turn, leads to problems for farmers with cross-border concerns), but when compared with France and Germany at 3 and 4.5% respectively, it does seem to put us at a disadvantage with our EU competitors.

Recently, the agricultural Minister called for us all to buy British where we could and for farmers to produce more- unfortunately for many, the single farm payment represents any profit farmers have for reinvesting back into their businesses in the form of replacement and repair of machinery, livestock or buildings. A little like telling us to do something with one arm tied behind our backs!

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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