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By the barn September 2021

Posted: 7th Sep 2021

“To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.” Keats -Ode to Autumn

As Autumn arrives the field work starts in earnest ready for the next season- preparing the ground for the next crop in the rotation, sowing and then raking the ground or rolling to firm it and seal in the moisture. You might have heard of ‘low till’ or ‘min till’- where the new seed is sown directly into the ground without disturbing the soil structure . This may well work on light sandy soils but it is less likely to succeed on heavier soils, especially if the weed burden is greater. But ‘new’ methods are tried to see if production can be more sustainable.

Ewe and Ram sales are an important fixture in the calendar and replacing sheep that are no longer able to carry lambs for various reasons is important, especially as from this year farmers will see the basic farm payment reduce as we transition to the new support schemes, based more on production of ‘public benefit’ and environmental sustainability.

But we must not forget that we have a population of 70million people to feed and with floods in Germany and Austria and ‘heat domes’ in North America, we cannot presume that we will easily import any shortfall and if new governmental policies discourage or undermine farming, how will our needs be met?

Many will be starting to trim hedges as the bird breeding season has finished, especially along roadsides, where field work needs to be carried out or where there is a need to manage the hedge( if it’s getting slightly too tall maybe) . Here, we leave it as late as possible and only do half at once, not neat and tidy but providing lots of feed and habitat for wildlife.

Our young cattle will be coming in-we have to do our six monthly tb test and although all our cattle are tested, the young ones will stay in as the older cows, with this years calves, will go back out( fingers crossed) and we will feed them up, ready to be sold at market in a few weeks.

We’ll have some of our apples ready for picking this month, although most of our trees are later ripening varieties, along with the crab apples in the hedgerows.

We replanted an ancient orchard with Derbyshire varieties of Apple nearly ten years ago and they are maturing slowly, protected by a large hedge from the cold easterly winds. Most of our apples are used by cider makers but I manage to store enough to feed us into the new year. After harvesting, the trees would sleep through Autumn until being ‘wakened’ by wassailing around January 17th ( the old twelfth night) when they would be awakened by noise to drive off evil spirits and a feed of cider soaked toast! Somewhat like a harvest festival, thanks given for the production of food for the coming year.

Apples are certainly good for you, with evidence to support pulmonary and cardiovascular health and they also provide home and food for moths- vital pollinators of which there are approximately 2500 species in the UK and these moths also become food for bats/birds/ toads and hedgehogs – they have lovely names too, like ‘Angle shades’, ‘white ermine’ etc.

Each brood of Blue tits would eat approximately 15000 moth caterpillars so please try to keep and overgrown or weedy bit of garden to help them breed. Image

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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