My optimistic comments in last month’s notes were not entirely premature but I feel a bit guilty of being so cheery when comparing our good fortune with that of some near neighbours. We finished harvest on Saturday 22nd August at 10.00pm. The last week had caused a bit of anxiety with the weather turning increasingly catchy. I was very relieved to be able to sit down in the orchard with some caravanning friends toasting the harvest home with Victoria ale and a very nice single estate rum or two while watching for meteorite trails until midnight. The two jolly green giants at Coddenham Green provided an appropriate soundtrack while they cleared up the rest of theirs too.
However many neighbours have not been as fortunate and it is concerning to see wheat and beans still to harvest with the September dews upon us. Apparently there is still a lot to bring in north of Lincoln and Scotland still has more than half of the harvest to do. Having crops damaged by weather, in a year when prices are very low, is adding insult to injury. There does not seem to be much joy in any of the farming sectors at the moment. The combination of good harvests worldwide and financial problems in China, Russia and much of Europe has caused nearly all food prices to slump. A good time for consumers to choose the Red Tractor labelled food and support the UK industry as far as possible.
We finished sowing the oilseed rape on 5th September and all is rolled and sprayed up. The first fields planted at Mickfield have emerged well and so far have escaped the dreaded Cabbage Flea Beetle. The showery conditions have caused a bit of stress but at least the germination of the rape should benefit from the moisture. All the muck has been spread and worked in. We have spread it more thinly this year to extend the benefit to more land and to comply more accurately to the limit placed upon us by the Environment Agency. The days of a heavy plastering have long gone and this year I did make an attempt to apply a certain tonnage per acre. A bit fictitious really because I have no idea whether the 14 tonne spreader we hire actually holds 14 tonnes. It does spread muck more accurately than the old one used to though.
Cultivating and ploughing are going well and our target start for drilling wheat on Saturday 20th September should be achievable if the weather is kind to us. On the wildlife front, I have seen several broods of pheasants but most of them with under five chicks which is not brilliant. We have a number of small coveys of partridges including one small one of greys which is nice to see. Flocks of Goldfinches have been enjoying the last of the thistledown and then there have been several flocks of some other ‘little brown jobs’ but my knowledge is lacking so perhaps one of the other birdwatchers can identify them.
On a less welcome note we have had two visits from groups of Irish travellers with lurchers in the Impaugh area – obviously coursing for hares. The tales they come out with would be very amusing if the purpose of their visits were not so alarming. We need the registration numbers of their pick-ups before the police can do anything. Hopefully as the nights draw in the problem will disappear.