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by the barn May 18

Posted: 2nd May 2018

“The sun does arise, and make happy the skies;

The merry bells ring to welcome the spring; The skylark and thrush, the birds of the bush, Sing louder around to the bells cheerful sound.” William Blake

May time brings us lots of work as we take stock of what the effects of last winter have been- both on our land and crops and on our livestock.

The wet weather may have meant damage to the ground where the cattle have fed off the silage and hay put out to supplement the grass which took a while to start growing, and will have been repaired in some way- maybe by rolling or sowing grass seed in any bare patches.

Our fields are shut up where we intend to get a cut of silage and you will see many high sided silage trailers out and about, filled to the brim with cut grass, heading back to the farm to be ‘clamped’, or big black plastic wrapped bales being carted into secure stacks. We are stocking up for next winter already!

Our sheep and lambs have taken advantage of fresh spring grass and should be growing fast, being vaccinated and wormed appropriately to ensure healthy stock.

The cows and calves enjoy the spring sunshine- the calves lying in cosy places and mum grazing but keeping a close eye on her sleeping offspring.

It is worth repeating that, if walking in livestock fields keep your dog on a lead, but let it loose if you feel threatened.

Ground nesting birds will be busy along the bottoms of hedges and in the straggly corners of fields, as they construct their shelter for the clutch of eggs they will be laying now. As our arable fields are surrounded by wildlife ‘margins’, we try to keep off them as much as possible now, so the birds aren’t frightened off and we certainly don’t take the dogs along them at this time of year.

The wild strawberry will be growing in woods and hedges and should be flowering at this time, along with the other hedge plants and nettles. Maybe visited by the first of the Red Admiral butterflies if the weather is conducive.

Perhaps we will hear the Cuckoo this year, as the migrant birds start arriving. So, the biggest change in British agriculture for many decades, is being discussed. The Government has produced its ‘command’ paper- its thoughts on farming after we leave the EU.

One of the common themes is the valuation of ‘public goods’. What exactly is meant?

Is it the landscape- the hedges and trees and patchwork of the field system? Or the bleak uplands with its stone walls and pretty stone built cottages? Or maybe the wide flatlands of the eastern counties, with the grid of dykes and drains?

All created by farmers for the production of food, not just recently but over many hundreds of years. And isn’t food a ‘public good’? Where would we be without access to a trustworthy supply of nutritious food? Relying on imports, where we have no control over what is produced and how and at what cost?

Another ‘public good’ is the network of footpaths and rights of way, some consensual and voluntary, that allow access to many beautiful areas. It’s a shame when these are abused.

Next month sees Open Farm Sunday returning on the 10th June- maybe time for a visit to a farm opening just for the occasion.

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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