July 2003

The View from the Hill July 2003

Deadlines are a bit like speed limits, set them, and you will always catch out the disorganized, hence two months for the price of one in this section.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of glorious weather, which should be a great benefit to the crops, many of which are starting to turn colour now, on the way to a prompt start to harvest around the middle of the month.

At last the sheep have had their jackets shorn off, and they can venture out of the shade for a bit longer each day, although they may be in danger of sunburn now.  The older bunch of cattle are now safely installed on the meadows by the river, after they took themselves on a rodeo around Bryanston School one Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago.  Now they have mostly lost their winter coats, they are beginning to look quite respectable beasts, shiny and growing fast.

Last year Britain finally brought in a new phase of the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Scheme, under huge pressure from Brussels.  For years Britain has dragged its feet over this issue, but finally it happened, and in our case at least one third of our land is now classified in an NVZ.  The idea behind this scheme is to protect rivers and groundwater from nitrogen pollution, sometimes caused by careless fertilizer application, or more often from overdoing the muck spreading.  All very sensible and necessary of course, if people are going to be so careless.  The only effect it has on us at the moment is to restrict when we may apply farmyard manure to the land in the NVZ.  The strange thing is that for some unknown reason the restricted period prevents us from spreading manure during the months of September and October, which is when we have traditionally done it. 

For a number of years we have applied chicken manure from a neighbouring egg farm to some of our fields.  For autumn sown crops this has to be done in September or October, as the previous crop is often not harvested until late August, there is never the time to actually spread the stuff until harvest is finished anyway, (usually mid September), and all autumn crops should be safely in the ground before the end of October if they are to survive the winter.  The upshot of all this is that we probably won’t use chicken manure any more, and will use more artificial fertilizer instead, and the poor old chicken farmer will have to find someone else to take the manure.  Organic farmers beware!

Strange goings-on in Village Playing Field

This picture shows an unusual operation seen being carried out recently in the playing field. 

This month’s teaser is: How old is the machine being used?  (Hint – probably a bit older than the operator)

Alternatively, you may like to suggest a suitable caption, entries please, to Evil Ed, at Durweston News.

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