View from the Hill 28th June 2005
Here are three of this year’s orphan lambs, doing what they do best. It was a painful lesson learning what an electric fence is, once that free range of the garden was no longer an option, but now they graze happily in their small paddock, on three milk feeds per day, plus adlib lamb nuts.
My second picture shows what happens if you try to feed calves who need a little extra food to supplement the grass, in a field also inhabited by pigs, who don’t.
June usually begins with all the crops looking vigorous, green and fast growing, lovely even crops with no weeds in sight. By the end of the month, all the weed problems we missed earlier on emerge above the crop canopy to taunt us. The cleavers we didn’t think needed spraying turn out to be far more populous than we thought, the wild oats we thought we’d got the better of rear up and laugh heartily, then I have to go in search of keen young folk to march up and down the fields filling their bags with handfuls of the things. The idea is to exhaust the supply of seed in the soil, which seems to be able to lie dormant for very many years, before coming back again, just when we thought we’d broken the back of the job after 12 years of rogueing.
A visit to the National Cereals event in Hertfordshire earlier this month turned up a few interesting ideas. On one stand there was a small rape crusher, which will produce approximately 35 litres of oil from every 100 kg of rapeseed crushed, also leaving a highly nutritious animal feed as a by-product. The oil can be poured straight into a diesel engine vehicle’s fuel tank, sadly the economics of this are not very clever due to the high cost of the machine, its slow work rate, and the fact that legally one must pay duty on any fuel used on the roads. On another stand there was a central heating boiler that will burn grain or wood pellets to heat your home. More on this next month. My last picture is an enlargement of a classic from the Blandford Georgian Fair in May, which I have been asked to reprint.