August 2009

View from the Hill                                                                            24th July 2009

Harvest has started, just, in between the rain showers which are probably annoying a lot of people, not just farmers.  We have so far managed to cut nearly half of our winter barley, and are patiently hoping that the weather  this weekend will do as the forecast has been promising, and let us get going properly.  After the barley, we’ll have to get on with the oilseed rape, it is now at the stage where it really doesn’t need any more heavy rain or wind on it, otherwise the pods start to shatter and we lose the seed on the ground.

At the end of June, our spring cleaning and clearout (mentioned last month) culminated in a grand sale day here at the farm.  In the morning we had the annual straw sale for our straw and that of several other farms in the district.  Trade was brisk, and perceived shortages helped to keep prices up.  The machinery sale took up much of the afternoon, after a rather chaotic lunchtime changeover period, during which many straw buyers and sellers left, while those on the hunt for machinery bargains arrived.  The single track lane didn’t really cope.  Again, trade was generally brisk, and as always on occasions like this, some items that had been expected to sell well were practically given away, whilst the most unlikely items often attracted the fiercest bidding.  It turned out that old tractor ballast weights are worth a good deal more than one might imagine, we only put some of them in at the last minute, and they were snapped up.  What didn’t sell for its original purpose found a new home with the scrapman, for recycling. 

As our crops ripen off on their way to harvest, I wonder if you can identify these in the pictures.  The first is a crop we haven’t grown for 10 years, and although it has grown well this season, it always has the annoying habit of collapsing when it finishes growing, and the combine has to scrape them off the ground.  No good in stony fields then.  If we can harvest a good clean sample, free of stain and stones, then they should end up, crimped (squashed), in bags of guinea pig and rabbit food.

The crop in the other picture is ripening rapidly, and with any luck it will be ready to harvest in around 3 weeks, fortunately the deal is that we don’t have to harvest it, the pharmaceutical company we grow them for have their own specialised machines that travel around the country.

It has been very noisy here at the farm for the last couple of days, because we weaned the orphan lambs this week, 9 weeks is more than enough bottle feeding, especially with the washing up afterwards, so we are now going through the pain of noise until they finally accept there will be no more milk.  They are now having to make do with creep pellets and grass.

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