Saturday 16th May
Notes from the cart track
The dry April has seamlessly continued into a dry May and crops are desperately needing a rain and some warm nights. The night-time frosts we have had lately are proving difficult in the vegetable garden and I am quite relieved to have no sugar beet to worry about. May and tree blossom seems to be good but with insect eating birds nesting I hope that a bit of warmth and a shower will bring more blossom in the various bits of conservation mixtures we have sown ready for the chick feeding.
The wheat crop looks reasonably good in general and provided we get a couple of inches of rain to fill the grains in June it should be ok. Spring barley is poor. the dry April has caused some germinating seed to fail to emerge from cloddy seed beds. The least bad field is the one we tried out a cover crop on which will encourage us to repeat the process next year. The oil radish component of the mixture may have help to prevent the soil becoming consolidated by the rain and lack of frost. There was certainly no problem with sowing though the residue. Spring beans being sown deeper and more robust plants have emerged well and should produce a reasonable result if weather conditions are favourable.
How has lockdown and social distancing affected us? Broadly speaking, our style of arable farming has continued more or less as normal. Chemical and fertilizer deliveries have not been affected so far. We have been able to get any building materials and spare parts that are needed although understandably delivery times are much longer and in the case of machinery dealers. We have to go and collect from a box outside the stores. Dust masks to use in the grain-store have quadrupled in price and delivery before harvest is not guaranteed. Delivery drivers and store staff of the companies we work with have been help and careful without exception.
We have seen a large increase in exercisers and dog walkers on the farm. The sunny weather has obviously encouraged this which is very good to witness. On an average day we get 50 – 60 folks out with at least half of these coming through the farmyard. Sam has put up some new signs showing what is supposed to be growing where and indicating which areas we are trying to leave disturbance free for conservations purposes. Thank you all for respecting these. We have had very few causes for concern. We do still have some loose dogs going into the growing crops. I don’t think their owners realise that skylarks are on nests at the moment and a Labrador blundering past is not conducive to chick survival. We have several pairs close to the main footpaths. I hope that next year we will have even more.