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By the barn April 19

Posted: 2nd Apr 2019

Now it’sApril- doesn’t time fly by?- everything is growing well.

The grass fields are fertilised and rolled so they are ready for silage making, the arable fields are checked for diseases and pests and the crops are assessed for their nutritional needs too.

For the farmer, soil health is very much in the forefront of his/her thoughts, as without good soil, you don't get good crops!

Roughly there are about 25 tonnes of micro organisms per hectare. These are made up of 4 tonnes of worms, 10 of fungus and 1 of beetles, amongst others. So the soil is very much a living thing and we don’t want to destroy the balance, it’s much better to work with than against and whatever is taken out needs to be put back- something farming detractors do not seem to think we do.

On a wet spring day you will often see earthworms on the surface , but there are many different types that live in different soil layers or types of soil and scientists suggest they live for one to two years in gardens but can live four to eight in field conditions.

There are many Blackbirds about the hedges and they, along with other birds, enjoy a meal of worms, especially as chicks hatch and fledge.

We do not trim hedges at this time of year , nor do we walk on the field margins, if we can help it, in case there are ground nesting birds.

The new growth of nettles poke through the leaf litter- the bright frilly green showing clearly and these can be picked( carefully !) and eaten. Nettle soup or nettle beer was quite common at one time. But they do spread a bit too easily if allowed and the network of roots entangle round brickwork, implements and anything left lying around.

Dairy cattle are turned out now too and as the grass increases so does the milk yield. They must consume enough to nurture the calf they are carrying, whilst also producing milk. Sucklers ( beef cattle) only have to look after themselves and their unborn calf and feed a growing calf ( but that usually is eating grass too)

Our ewes have nearly finished lambing and earlier in the year we had a problem with a particular gate on a footpath being left open- surprising as it does close and fasten very easily and securely, so we can only assume someone didn’t care what they were doing when they were out on the path. By leaving it open there was the potential for sheep to get out and damage crops( or had it been near a road, cause danger to themselves or other road users). Please be considerate when out on the paths-to the animals if no one else!

Sheep worrying is a major issue and causes anguish to everyone in one way or another, so don’t take the risk and have your dog on a lead if in livestock fields ( but loose if threatened by cattle).

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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