Notes from the Cart Track – June 2020

Friday 12th June 2020

Notes from the cart track

The wet few days we have just had, were very welcome indeed.  We have recorded just over 24mm which, combined with overcast humid conditions, will allow the rain to be absorbed by the crops before it evaporates.  At the risk of being called a misery, I wish it had been twice or three times as much!  The greetings of the many cart track walkers passing through the farmyard have been interesting.  There have been many grimaces when folks have been caught by heavy showers.  When I point out that the rain is needed for the crops to grow for food, the common reaction is, “Yes I know but I am walking the dog.”  The Arabs have a saying – All sunshine makes the desert – very true.

Wheat crops are looking promising and every shower will help grain fill in the ears.  The prolonged dry spell has given us very little disease to worry about so far.  Keeping the flag leaf clear of fungal infection is very important.  This is the final and largest leaf of the cereal plant to emerge and provides 40% of the end yield of the plant.  When it is working at its hardest during the long hours of daylight at present it is truly the power house of the arable farm and is quite literally providing our bread and butter.  The rain and sun are also benefitting the spring barley which has transformed itself from disastrous to bad since the rain.  The jury is still out on the spring beans as they have an extra 2 or 3 weeks longer than the other crops to reach maturity.  More rain and sun over the next fortnight will improve matters a lot. 

With no Suffolk Show, Cereal Exhibition, crop trials or holidays to get in the way, we have been plugging on with lots of routine maintenance jobs which have been pending for quite a while.  Hedge cutter and grass topper have been treated to new sets of flails and had guards repaired and a couple of leaking hydraulic rams resealed.  The main elevator in the grain store has been showing its 60years of active service for a few years now so we have taken all the cups off the drive belts ready for the skilled team at Bloomfield’s, in Debenham, to replace the 48metres of belts.  All we have to do then is to bolt the 384 cups back on to the belts.

On the wildlife front it has been a very enjoyable spring.  Whether the lockdown has given us time to watch, or the sunny weather and warm winter has been beneficial to resident creatures, we have seen a lot.  Our barn owl box has 3 chicks in it and there seems to have been plenty of food for them.  In the garden we have enjoyed the antics of a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers at the peanut feeders, and seen hedgehogs, muntjac and foxes with our camera trap and during the day.  Turtle doves seem to be favouring the area close to the farm buildings and churchyard this year and butterflies and bees are making the most of the clover and vetches on our lawn ( or what we call a lawn!)  there have been some glorious sunsets seen through a pint of Farmers Flagon ruby ale from St Peter’s Brewery.  I look forward to being able to share these sentiments in the future.

David Tydeman