We are waiting for a bit more sunshine so we can get on with harvest, some of the spring barley is ready to go now.
I can only stand and gape at this jaw-droppingly awful weather. The Stour burst its banks again last weekend, after 88 mm of rain between Friday lunchtime and late Saturday night. No one I know can remember the river coming out in July before. May was bad enough, but in mid summer, too bad. The cattle thought it was fun for a while, but they won’t much like eating the grass now it’s been flooded, all sorts of unnatural smells will make it unattractive. The following rain will I hope clean it up a bit, but it’s the people who were hoping to make hay or late cuts of silage from their meadows I really feel sorry for. On Sunday to lighten the mood we took our little ‘jolly boat’ down for a paddle on the fields, the current was surprisingly strong even near the shore, so we soon tired of rowing, and some of the party decided to go in for a dip, fully clothed.
In the glorious, if short-lived sunshine, it was all rather pleasant, but I was brought down to earth with a thump yesterday, when our agronomist pointed out how badly fusarium has got into the ears of both the wheat, and even worse, the spring barley, which neither he nor I have ever seen before. The disease is taking out three or four grain sites on an alarming number of ears, and with the awful weather continuing, presumably it will continue to infect more. There are 3 or 4 weeks to go before these crops will be anywhere near ripe, which is plenty of time for them to become a bit of a mess. We desperately need some good drying weather and warm sunshine, and no more rain please. The winter barley will need cutting within a few days, our average start date is around July 15th, but how on earth will we manage to do anything when it seems unable to stop raining? We need a good two days of drying before we can even dream of putting the combine near any barley.
The Larmer Tree Festival starts tonight, those beautiful lawns will become a quagmire in no time. My niece is on tractor duty helping to pull vehicles into the site!
On Tuesday afternoon, I took advantage of the lovely sunny weather, and managed to get a flight from Compton Abbas to fly around the farm taking lots of pictures. I have been trying to do this for several weeks, while the rape is in flower, but there have been very few fine days, or days when the airfield could fit me in. The countryside looked utterly beautiful, and the bright yellow fields of rape make it look the most amazing patchwork, the rape stretches as far as you can see to the north, south and east, but there is very little to be seen down in the Vale, not surprisingly, still mostly grass country, as it should be!
Anyway, here is a small selection around Durweston.
The Stour came up overnight on Wednesday 25th April, for the first time in a couple of years, it came as far as it ever comes, using the water trough as a crude measure. Luckily we moved the cattle to higher ground as we could see that nearly 2 inches of rain in 36 hours was likely to have consequences.