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By the barn October21

Posted: 4th Oct 2021

“But Autumn has a palette

And a painting brush instead And daubs the leaves for pleasure With yellow, brown and red.” Farjeon

When we first moved into the farm and for the next few years, we cropped roughly half the land ( wheat, Barley, later Oats, at times triticale, field beans and field peas).

Now only half of that ground is given over to arable crops, including field margins around each field and a section for wild bird seed. The changes were mostly to make life easier , as there were only the two of us.

Autumn has always been a busy time harvesting, followed by field work( which would mostly drag into this month and, hopefully, with the weather holding because, being on red clay, once the Autumn/ winter weather settled in, the ground wasn’t fit to get on.

We’ve always had an eye on our soils, trying to keep lots of organic matter in them. We’ve also tried Spring sown crops too, but our ground hasn’t dried up enough for them to be successful these last few years and so have returned to Autumn sown crops.

So it did come as a surprise when the Environmental Agency introduced a ban on Autumn manuring, quite out of the blue. This is now under discussion!

Root crops, such as potatoes, will be lifted and moved into storage, needing a cool and dark place. Here ( before my time) sugar beet would be grown and transported to Colwick near Nottingham, where there was a processing plant, now long since gone and before ‘sugar’ became a dirty word. Now sugar beet production is mainly concentrated in the east of the country.

Tups(Rams) will have gone in with the ewes and sometimes ‘raddle’ (oil based paint) is used to distinguish the time of lambing and plastered onto the tups chest. Starting with a lighter colour, ie.yellow, after a 17 day cycle, the colour is changed for one darker and then again 17 days after. Any not marked are presumed barren and the farmer knows what order the sheep will lamb, making it easier for calculating feed.

Any cattle outside may be be supplementary fed with fodder as the weather cools and grass begins to lessen. They start to shout if we’re a bit late and rush at any sound of a tractor engine.

Dairy cattle will be in at night as they need more tlc if they’re to provide plenty of milk and this also helps soil condition, preventing it becoming compacted or poached. But it does mean that the food has to be brought to them. That’s why a good supply of silage is necessary.

Hedges can be cut back, although we’re encouraged to leave them a bit longer or maybe not cut as often, to increase berries and restoration, in the form of hedge laying, coppicing or replanting can begin now the sap has stopped rising.

Lots of lamb sorting this month gives Ted a good workout, as we do have to keep moving them to market as they get ready. Some of our cattle will be going also, if we pass out tb test.

Farmers may be able to take the day off for the ploughing matches, which can hopefully go ahead, where completions for all produce from silage to grown crops and cakes to pickles are judged alongside the plough and hedge laying competitions. overwintered stubble

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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