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By the barn July 18

Posted: 2nd Jul 2018

July already and with it comes lots more work on the farm as all of a sudden, it seems, there is more silage to make ( and haylage too) and if the weather holds hay making begins – meadow hay needs three good days and seed hay needs four or five for a heavy crop, being turned to dry before rowing up and baling.

Shearing the sheep will be continuing, as some will have been shorn in May and the following weeks. Not only is it a means of income from selling the fleece but it is also a welfare issue- heavy fleeces make sheep unwieldy and if they get on their backs, they cannot easily right themselves and can die if not turned the right way up!

Dirty, sweaty wool also provides a nursery to flies and resulting maggots can cause irritation and suffering if not treated.

Crops are ripening in the fields and the yellow Oil seed rape flowers have disappeared now as the seeds form, before harvesting begins.

Neonicatinoids have been banned - these work by turning the whole plant into a poison for insects, but unfortunately, against beneficial insects as well as the pests.

However, the useable pesticides are potentially worse for animals and birds.

Pollinators ( Bees, wasps, hover flies,beetles, Butterflies and moths and some mammals, lizards etc) are necessary for 80% of crops and wild flowers. These transfer pollen from one plant to another and mean fertilisation can take place, leading to the formation of seeds and, therefore, the continuation of the species and the farming crop.

Farmers can plant pollen and nectar seed mixes in odd corners of fields to help provide food for pollinators, as many things can have a detrimental effect on them. Extreme weather or the wrong sort at the wrong time can mean the right food isn’t available when a particular pollinator is around and Loss of brownfield sites, planting trees on what was once meadow, house building, tidiness of gardens and verges all have an adverse effect on pollinating insects etc, as do long distances between areas of pollen rich plants. But,it is summer, the wild flowers are blooming along the field margins.

The vetches with their winding tendrils are flowering, purples and pinks, the creamy clouds of Meadowsweet wave in the breeze and the Hedge parsley and Chervil dance alongside the hedges. Self heal and Bugles glow bright blue against the green of the grass, while the Loosestrife and Willowherbs stand tall.

The calves are growing, benefitting from the luscious grass and the recent warm weather and scurry away when we get too close to them, their tails poking straight up.

On hot dry days you may see a wriggle out of the corner of your eye as a grass snake hurries away or come across an Adder basking on a warm stone. Grass snakes lay eggs, whereas Adders give birth to live young, but both eat small animals, frogs etc. Or you might spot a Slow worm, which eats slugs and worms. He’s really a legless lizard and quite harmless.

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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