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By the barn July 20

Posted: 2nd Jul 2020

Over halfway through the year (& what a year it has been!) and with life slowly returning to a new form of normality, the farming cycle to provide your food is getting close to harvest.

Some crops will be ready earlier than usual due to the hot dry May, which hastened their maturing, but won’t provide much because the growing season has been so short.

Silage and hay will be got as and when able to supplement winter feed supplies, but straw may well be in short supply as harvested crops are shorter.

Spraying to maintain crop health and production hasn’t been able to take place in some cases( you might think that’s a good thing) and this will also reduce the amount harvested. If this is similar globally then price may rise to feed the increasing global population.

If it is just in this country then imports most likely will come in, having been sprayed with banned chemicals that are illegal here ( and making them cheaper than home produced) to keep food stocks up.

That is the crux of the agricultural bill going through parliament- do we import no matter what or do we expect imported supplies to be of the same production standard as here( similar to children’s toys standards or electrical equipment) ? This is complicated by the effects on trade agreements.

The U.K. Is one of the lowest users of on farm antibiotics(reduced by 53%) and growth promoting hormones have been illegal to use for animals since 1981, however, US antibiotic useage in agriculture has increased vastly and growth regulators are still permissible with no restrictions.

Low dose antibiotics are commonly used in other parts of the world to increase growth rates and minimise production costs and the fear is it enhances resistance to antibiotics in humans. Of course, these restrictions , which apply to all farmers here( not just those in assurance schemes) make home produced meats more costly for farmers to produce.

So if unlimited lower standard imports come in , it becomes difficult to keep up home supply as financially it becomes more unviable to produce, therefore less is produced, more is imported and so on. Also this means we export our ethics too!

Sheep will be sheared – following necessary Covid-19 rules, if not already done and this is a welfare issue as it protects the animal from fly strike ( where fly eggs are laid in the dirty, sweaty fleece and resulting maggots cause irritation, inflammation and even death if left untreated). Contrary to Animal Activists, it isn’t cruel- it causes no harm( maybe the occasional knick, like when shaving) and I’m sure the animal is pleased to be rid of the weight of a heavy fleece too! However, with the price of wool down because of the halt to industry, it will probably cost more to shear than to sell the resulting fleece.

Soft fruits and salad vegetables are at their peak and are picked and packed on farm, hopefully with enough staff to ensure produce doesn’t go to waste. There is a scheme to use indigenous UK workers (previously the majority were picked by seasonal immigrant labour) and these will be needed up until autumn as the hop/ apple and pear orchards also need to be harvested.

Summer wild flowers are blooming- self heal, vetch, trefoils and Avens flourish among the grasses. We will also be cutting thistles and nettles to stop them encroaching on the pasture but there are still plenty about for butterflies( Red Admirals) and seed loving birds( such as goldfinch)to feast on.

Ted is 5 ½ now and working as well as he will. He enjoys a stint moving sheep around or gathering them for bringing in and his instinct is showing. Pip, on the other hand is more concerned with chasing him, so has to be kept on a lead or shut in when we want him to work. Image

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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