Rain, rain go away

farmersChristmas seems to have come and gone so quickly. Why does time go faster as you get older – it should be the other way round. The turkey operation ran smoothly this year as well as the sales of our ham, bacon and sausages. The finished birds looked as good, if not better, than ever and if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, feedback from the Christmas table has been as good as ever too – including from critical family tasters at our own table. The birds were plucked very well this year and a special mention must go to Rose Bloy who completed her 50th year as a turkey plucker on the farm. Congratulations, Rose, and many thanks from us all.

Attention turns to the main business of the farm which has not gone so smoothly this growing year. I do not know if this has been the wettest autumn on record for this area, but we cannot remember a more difficult autumn for planting crops. We have only planted just over 25% of the area we would have liked to have sown by this time. It is now too late to plant winter barley. Beans and some varieties of wheat can be sown before the end of January but the land will have to dry out considerably if this is to happen. One variety of milling wheat, Skyfall (James Bond fans can date the advent of that variety) can be planted until the end of Febuary so there is more hope for that. Two fields are so waterlogged with springs and running water appearing in unexpected places that Richard has ordered seed for that land of a high protein red wheat that can be planted as late as May.

The land will dry out in the spring and crops will be planted – we hope more wheat as there will be a considerable shortage this year, but we are in uncharted territory and there will undoubtedly be a poorer harvest. Just to play the ‘never-satisfied-you-farmers’ card, with so much land planted perhaps in poor soil conditions in spring the nightmare scenario would be a drought after that, something that has happened in recent years with disastrous effects.

Recent events in Australia put our problems with the weather into perspective. Our thoughts are with them as they would no doubt love to be suffering from our ‘difficulties’.

Mike Hartley

February – March 2020