Wednesday, 1 August 2018

An Untypical Summer.


Farm News
...and so it goes on.  The first rain we had here, after a dry June, was on July 20th and that was a barely measurable one point two millimetres.  Farmers were having to combine the rape at night in order to get it in nearer to the  nine per cent moisture  required by the crushers in order to extract the oil.  During the day it was too dry at six per cent as it is not possible to extract the oil when the moisture content is so low.  The next job, once the rape was cleared,  was one of the least popular jobs, that of muck spreading.  The manure must be worked into the ground within twenty-four hours, but with the ground so dry incorporation is not so effective and the all-pervading smell lasts a little longer: one of the downsides of country living.

The wheat in First Hagg Lane Close has been combined and the straw cleared. Due to a combinations of circumstances the straw was very short this year.  Varieties have been bred with shorter straw in an attempt to reduce lodging (going flat) as happens when heavy rain, or even worse, hail, comes when the crop is ripening. A straw shortener can also be used:   an unnecessary cost this year, but how do you know in advance what the weather will be?  The weather affects the yield. The yield affects the price.  Do you sell some forward (before harvest) when you consider the price is right: the risk is the price and the quantity   There are so many choices to be made and then there is still an element of luck!

Nature Notes 
Going out later than usual to shut the henhouse I was pleased to see a number of bats swooping over the yard.  Having several of the original buildings there are plenty of places for them to hang out in during the day.  The date  on the threshing barn is 1849 and we have a field record book where the first recorded entry is dated 1855.  Several of the crops recorded are no longer grown, certainly not on this farm.
There is no shortage of nectar this year as plants in the herb garden have thrived in the sunshine.  Honey bees, hover flies and several species of bumble bee, are all over the marjoram;  with over 250 species of bumble bee I cannot pretend to have seen them all. They are also enjoying the teasel, another good nectar source.

The Social Side
A quick change of plan was necessary when it was discovered that the date chosen for A Quintessential English Tea, intended to raise funds for Epperstone church, clashed with Wimbledon finals and the football World Cup Final.  Disaster was averted by a last minute change to the following weekend.  Fortunately the weather continued perfect, ticket sales were good, the event was thoroughly enjoyable and a financial success, raising around £500 for much-needed funds.