By the barn September 2017
Posted: 6th Sep 2017
“At last late leaves bright-coloured bring,
Turning Time’s keys, Those fruits foreshadowed by the Spring, Acorns and nuts restore their trees. Vernon Watkins 1956
One place on our farm, which tends to be ignored during summer as it gets very overgrown, is the wood. It becomes more noticeable as the leaves begin to change colour, wither and fall.
Always there in the background as we work the fields, fetch the sheep in or move the cattle around. Providing us with firewood when one of the trees drop a branch or fall onto the fence surrounding it, crushing the wire or rails down to the ground and allowing livestock to get in, otherwise we tend not to pay too much attention.
Yet full of wildlife, plants and birdlife!
Often, in summer if you look up and listen, you can hear and see thousands of buzzing insects (and the noise is so loud at times). But the ground is impenetrable as bracken and brambles fight for supremacy, alongside nettles, poisonous Bittersweet and fluffy willowherb and hidden amongst all this are animal diggings.
Moths and butterflies love the dark, shaded areas and Buzzards perch high in the tree canopy, while rabbits and squirrels dart across the sunlit glades or scurry through the undergrowth.
Since the 1990’s, newly planted areas of woodland have been funded, in an attempt to expand the forested area in England, the largest being the National Forest, incorporating south Derbyshire and aiming to cover 200 square miles.
But the forest industry is huge- harvesting the timber, providing landscape, employment and education but subject to regulation to ensure sustainability.
We are finishing harvest now and, after fetching the last of the straw bales in and stacking them out of the weather, we will begin the fieldwork. Having decided what to grow and where (the seed will have been ordered, after scanning the brochures), the plough has had its points and shares checked and replaced if necessary, the power harrow has been fetched from its summer resting place and the other implements are ready to go!
However, other jobs still have to be done- the lambs have been weaned and wormed and we are marketing those ready, the ewes will be checked and have their feet trimmed, ready for when the ram goes in (and the sheep sales are in full swing too- for selling excess breeding sheep and buying replacement rams). Ted will be working hard this month and earning his keep!
Hopefully the cattle will be quite content for a while, growing their calves, until it is time to start feeding a little extra to supplement the grass when it starts to decline in nutrition.
postscript: our old dog Ben went to the big farm in the sky where he will be able to jump up on bales to his hearts content, this week. A very sad time for us here, but at 151/2yrs he had done well and he'd had a good summer to relax.
Posted by: Angela