By the barn April
Posted: 1st Apr 2018
“The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men, Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should Have gathered them and will do never again.” In Memoriam Edward Thomas
April is here and spring has sprung – the days are getting longer, the birds are singing, the Bees are buzzing and the trees are opening their leaves. How wonderful after such a cold, late winter!
Our workload continues as the main flock begin to lamb. We have moved the earlier ewes and lambs to pasture, the pens have been cleaned out and we have replenished our lambing supplies.
The cattle have gone out- as we forecast, after last years poor straw harvest, we had to buy in and still ran tight – and are appreciating being able to stretch their legs!
Our arable fields will receive a dose of fertiliser. Although the land was mucked before sowing, the growing crop needs to be fed inorder to yield for us, both in seed and straw. This application will be artificial fertiliser, the main nutrients being Nitrogen, phosphate and potash in whichever ratio we think our crops need, in consultation with our agronomist.
Potash (potassium) is mined in places like Canada, Russia and China, Phosphate can be obtained from animal manures or crushed rock and nitrogen fertiliser is made from ammonia. Growing crops take much nutrient out of the soil and this needs to be replenished.
In this country, we use much less than France and other countries. Crops need taking care of if they are to supply us, be it as flour or vegetables, with a significant harvest and that includes keeping them pest and weed free.
One way of doing this is to use chemicals, such as Glyphosate, in a highly researched and regulated environment.
Using Glyphosate, for example, allows low tillage for conservation, whereas using mechanical tillage destroys habitat for Lapwings and other ground nesting birds and Bees and insects In fact, almost three quarters of all farmed land is covered by a nutrient management plan – which limits the amount and type of soil nutrient.
Soil health is important to all sectors of agriculture and that is one of the reasons why we house our cattle over winter- it stops the ground getting trodden up and the structure of the soil being damaged, which means our grass will grow better to feed our animals.
Towards the end of the month you may see first crop silage being made, particularly if the weather stays warm, after the grass was fertilised and rolled and that remains the theme over the next few weeks- giving our crops, grass and animals the right food and conditions in which to grow and flourish.
Our collie, Ted, will have much careful work to do as we spend a lot of time with the sheep, moving them around and weighing the lambs and he has become a sleek and imposing dog, but still a big baby at heart.
The paddocks will be adorned with daffodils and amongst them we can see ‘milkmaids’, otherwise known as ‘Cuckoo flowers’, which love damp parts and are a lovely pale pink and white and contrast beautifully with the bright yellow, and also provide a home for the eggs and subsequent caterpillars of the Orange tip butterfly.
All in all, a promise of the summer to come!
Posted by: Angela