July 2009

I came upon this fine looking machine parked alongside the road near Puddletown a week or two ago, it’s not really the right colour for our farm, but I do like the tracks, it means that the overall width of the combine is less than with wheels, so less of a problem on the roads, yet the pressure exerted on the ground is much less, meaning no annoying ruts if the soil is wet at harvest.  This combine will also be better at going up steep hills than a normal one.  The downside to all this is that the tracks option will add many thousands to the price.

My next picture shows what happens when you accidentally sow the tramlines too far apart, and the crop of spring beans doesn’t get the dose of weedkiller it was meant to.  The strip down the middle (yellow if you are reading online, pale grey if in print) is a very lively infestation of charlock.  The gap is because the sprayer bouts don’t meet in the middle, as the drill must have slipped a tramline bout, which is usually automatic, meaning that the tramline is a whole 5 metres too far away from the previous one.  The beans are the crop which have suffered more than any other from the predominantly dry weather this spring, on the thinner soils, as in this picture, over at Thornicombe, they are very short, and will produce very little.  It is remarkable how much taller the plants are further down the slope, where the soil gets a bit heavier, and holds moisture better.

The poppies shown here could also have done with a bit more rain; emergence was very patchy in a very dry seedbed, and they just haven’t managed to even up enough.  They are passing full flowering stage now, and the capsules are at least benefiting from lots of sunshine, keeping them green and clean.

We have had a very intensive period of spring cleaning just lately, this skip was the fourth we have filled with scrap iron in a month.  You might think we must have been submerged under a sea of old machines, however they were actually secreted away quite cleverly, it is only when you go looking for it properly do you find the stuff that really has reached the end of its life, and has no hope of making anything more than scrap value in a sale.  That said, we have also decided to have a machinery sale next week, to try to get rid of the stuff which was too good for the skip!  The machine on the top of the skip in the picture is a bale elevator, which years ago we all spent many noisy and sweaty hours toiling under, as it delivered a steady stream of bales to the haystack. Sometimes the clever dick on the trailer would think it was funny to pile the bales end to end on the elevator, and the poor sods in the roof of the barn would curse and swear even more in the heat and dust, and threaten to drown the culprit in the nearest water trough.  Although the elevator is rare reminder of a bygone age, none of us are terribly sad to see it go.  Nowadays most bales are big ones, which are moved by the forklift, and any small bales are not stacked any higher than a full trailer load of bales, so there is no more sweating in the dust right up under a sun-baked roof.

In the last month we have played host to two farm visits, firstly Mrs Bosworth, Mrs Cresswell and their helpers brought the reception class out from the village school.  They had a ride on the trailer, fed some orphan lambs, visited a badgers sett, looked at wild flowers, and asked lots of questions, which is the best part for the farmer.  Later in the month 36 people braved the dodgy looking weather, and rode forth in trailers on Open Farm Sunday, we took them around as many different crops and animals as possible, and again fielded lots of interesting questions.  We picnicked in the woods on Shillingstone Hill, next to the Outdoor Classroom that belongs to the Dorset Coppice Group.  I would like to thank all those who came, for their interest and their contributions, and we will be happy to run another visit another day if there is enough demand.

George Hosford.

PS

I never saw so many Morris dancers all in one place as there were at the Wimborne Folk Festival.  Some took it very seriously, and others were very clearly having a real laugh.  The costumes seem to give a clue as to the dancers’ attitude.  The wackier the outfit, the more exuberant the dancing.  There were several groups wearing shaggy costumes, which presumably represent some kind of pagan past.  The music was great too, lots of squeezeboxes and violins.

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