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By the barn October

Posted: 2nd Oct 2017

October and we are noticing the nights drawing in. The early morning starts are getting later for us as we can’t look at the livestock until daylight.

One thing most noticeable as we walk round the fields at this time of year, are the hedges, abundant with berries of all different hues- the bright red of the hawthorn,the orange of the rose hips and the black sloes of the blackthorn.

Hedges are he mainstay of this area, marking out boundaries and keeping animals where they are put. They take a lot of management to preserve their function- left to their own devices they grow upwards and get thin at the bottom, allowing livestock ( sheep in particular) to nibble at the growth and bark and causing gaps to appear, enabling them to sneak out and where one goes, another is sure to follow!

So every ten or so years, the hedge is ‘laid’, by clearing out the twisted branches or weeds and partly cutting through the remaining branch to bend and weave it with the others. This invigorates the plant to start growing upwards again and so the cycle begins again.

Sometimes the newly laid hedge is fenced off to stop the new growth being eaten. Other plants take advantage of the ground clearance and extra daylight and we will see plants growing which haven’t been noticed before.

There are conservation schemes to care for hedges as they provide a wildlife corridor, so small animals( and birds and insects) can travel around territories in relative safety!

Farmers are seen as destroyers of hedges but the truth is many miles have been replanted as, in Derbyshire alone, 86% of land is in some form of conservation scheme, many contracts including hedges. The biggest destroyer of hedges are new house builds and road infrastructure.

Ivy is flowering and the white flowers beloved of Bees and Wasps and all manner of flying things are also turning black as the woody climber wends and twists its way up to the tops of posts and trees. Our apples in our orchards are ripened and falling, a mass of decomposing windfalls, where we haven’t had time to pick them up, beaten by the wild crab apples amongst the hedges, whose fruit has lain for several weeks already, this year.

The Codlin moth loves fruit and its grubs eat into the fruit whilst still on the tree and eat not only the flesh but the developing pips too! The larva hibernates under loose tree bark over the winter before appearing in the spring to wreak havoc.

Cattle and sheep are still grazing outside and we may have to start giving them extra forage to replenish the grass which has slowed down its growth, depending on the weather. We are still selling lambs as they get ready through Bakewell and have to wait for a load for economy’s sake.

Ted is working more now and should be approaching His work with some knowledge and commitment, however, it’s in short supply at times. Pip loves to find a dead thing and play with it, throwing it around like a cat does, but a piece of dried sheep poo will do just as well!

Our beautiful, friendly, old Benny boy, fifteen years young, started to struggle one night and, as he was no better the following morning, we decided it would be unkind for him to suffer the coming winter. He had a lovely summer and got to know Pip, the next farm dog and enjoyed a relaxed life. ben

He went to sleep laying in the doorway in the sunshine, his favourite spot. Thanks to our vet for being kind and compassionate with him.

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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