APRIL 2014

What glorious spring weather we have been enjoying recently. It is a great pleasure being able to go out to work in dry weather gear and not be plodding through mud all the time. Chilly nights but with the sound of lawn mowers buzzing, and the dawn chorus getting noisier by the week, spring has finally arrived. All crops are now sown. I spent a couple of weeks on the drill with somewhat mixed results. Some of the seed-beds were very cloddy and the markers on the drill do not last long bouncing from furrow top to furrow top. That’s my excuse for the wiggly lines which are emerging anyway.

approached sugar beet drilling with considerable anxiety as I had never done the job before and straight lines are not a skill I have ever mastered. Also the land had not really had any good frosts on it all winter and had not broken down at all. Fortunately we were able to power harrow it and a very welcome 5mm rain fell before drilling. So at least the seed went into a moist seed bed. Now, at the risk of sounding perverse, a good soak would be very welcome. Fertiliser applications and spraying are up to date but, with no significant rainfall forecast until May, we may have to rely on some heavy dews to get the nitrogen into the soil. I am planning to dance the sun up on Easter morning at 5.45am so maybe that will provoke a shower! Failing that I will have another go on May 1st at Felixstowe!!

Our current batch of pigs has settled well and they are growing fast. They are not quite as healthy as the last lot but shown themselves to be very advanced other ways. When David was in the yard adjusting the feed hoppers the other day something heavy clunked onto his foot. One of the pigs had dropped a set of mole-grips beside him - very thoughtful of the pig, as no mole-grips had been taken into the building. We have never had pigs before which have had a formal training in engineering and one wonders what miracles they could perform if equipped with a full set of tools. Could they be trained to repair the gates and drinkers which they seem so skilled at breaking? We can only assume that our big bale contactor is missing a set of grips which found its way somehow into the guts of his baler.

While drilling in mid-March, I had the pleasure of the company of a pair of buzzards each day. These opportunists would drop by two or three times a day to watch for movement on the field I was working before drifting off to check out somewhere else. They do love young leverets but the hares have allies in their fight for survival. The buzzards are rarely left alone by rooks and crows and responsibility for harassing them seems to be passed from colony to colony as the big birds soar on thermals across the countryside. Kestrels also often appear when field work is being done. Their numbers seem to be better this year. Maybe the mild winter has allowed more mice and voles to survive and has helped our prettiest small hawk to recolonize.