Firstly I must apologise to readers of 6VN for the non-appearance of September’s Notes from the Cart Track. In almost 20 years of writing this article it is only the 2nd time it has failed to appear which is most galling. The attachment sent to the editor failed to attach and we did not find out about the omission until after the deadline. It did appear in Stonham Community magazine and can always be found on our web site – www.broughtonhallfarm.co.uk.
After 2 easy harvests and autumn planting seasons, this year is causing a little more concern. Changeable weather with heavy showers has forced us to alter work plans several times. So far nothing has come to harm and as I write this all first wheats and most of the winter barley is sown and emerging well. We are trying to be patient and wait for the land to dry out before completing the barley and putting the second wheats in. As October progresses, the temptation is to press on regardless whether soil conditions are right or not. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we have 5 days work to do and we are still not late. After 3 months of unrelenting work the relief experienced when the last headland of the last field is finished cannot be over stated and seems to intensify as we get older. Having a weekend when the alarm does not go off at 6.30am will be a great feeling.
Crop prices have rallied a little but remain basically at very low levels. In particular oil seed rape is causing a lot of concern. Restrictions on the insecticides we use are worrying as the last thing we want to do is to attempt to grow a crop and then be unable to protect it from insect attack. It is an expensive crop to grow in both chemical and fertiliser costs and at present the potential returns hardly cover the money invested. We have continued as normal this year more in hope of a profit than expectation but we will have to seriously have to consider our options for 2016/17. It is such a useful food ingredient that it would be such a pity for the nation to have to import it all from other parts of the world and it would leave us with no home grown edible oils at all. We will have to trust our scientists and politicians to take sensible decisions based on fact rather than hysteria and come up with workable policies which allow room for wild life but also feed an increasing population at prices it can afford to pay for its food.
We are struggling to get our current batch of pigs off to Waitrose on time. The cool showery summer has not produced a very good demand for BBQ supplies and that combined with price pressure from continental pork has left our buyers with poor sales. If they can’t sell the pork, they don’t require so many pigs and a back log develops. So please carry on having those slow cooked shoulders and spare ribs even if you have to pretend the sun is shining while you are shivering on the patio!! Cooking alfresco in the snow can be fun even in Stonham Aspal!