The few frosty nights we have had recently have reminded us that, unlike last year, winter can be chilly. Colder nights ae good for the health of plants and the necessity of spraying for aphids has fortunately gone. Fungal diseases will also be held in check. We have applied the soil acting herbicide to the rape which needs low temperatures to work properly so the sprayer can be drained down and put to bed for a couple of months. We still have to lift beet which will probably not happen now until January. Other than that, arable operations are done until March.
Unusually we will have no pigs over Christmas so the farm will be very quiet for a couple of weeks. It will be nice for all of us to be able to have a break over the holiday period. However the next two weeks will be fairly hectic as we try to get all the buildings washed down and disinfected and any repairs done before the next batch come in January. Those of you who walk through the farm will be familiar with the growth cycle of the pigs, which we rear for Waitrose and the somewhat old fashioned nature of our buildings. David and Jason work hard to keep the pigs clean and tidy and I am pleased to report that their efforts have been recognised in being given the award for the Best Performing Small Finishing Herd within the BQP family for this year. BQP are the largest pig producers in the country and there are scores of farms in East Anglia and Yorkshire eligible for the award so we are very pleased to have our efforts recognised.
One additional bonus of having no pigs for three weeks will be having the opportunity to reduce the rat population which has infested the area this year. The old saying is ‘rats as big as cats’ and while I have not quite seen one the size of a ginger Tom there are certainly a few individuals around that would weigh as much as an adult female cat! The pigs and chickens are fed ad-lib which means food is available to them day and night in hoppers. It is also freely available to Samuel Whiskers and all his rodent friends. No pigs means no free food for the rats. The pig food can be cunningly replaced by poison to have a good go at reducing numbers. The grain stores are also being emptied which will remove another source of food. A good frost spell would stop them breeding too. So bring on a good cold snap!
East Suffolk Morris will be celebrating Plough Monday on January 12th again this year. We will start at Does Field at 7.30pm and make our way down the street, to each of the closes and finishing at the Village Hall at about 9.00pm. There, cake, ale, music and song will be available to all. Please come and join us to keep this tradition alive, even if only to join the après dance at the hall.
A happy new year to you all.