Yet again I feel very lucky to live in an area which has a very forgiving climate. While grumbling about the sheer number of miserable damp days we have had, I must give thanks for the few inches of rain we have had over the last couple of months instead of the 7” of rain in 24 hours as the poor folks in the north had to endure. However the constant topping up of our saturated soil is not doing the cereals any good at all. Waterlogging is causing some headlands to start yellowing and a few patches of crop in the corners has been drowned once too often. Perhaps ‘February fill dyke’ will give us a miss this year.
I mentioned a few months back that Charles and I were considering changing our drilling system to one using the strip drill technique to try to reduce crop establishment costs. We have visited a couple of farms which have been using the system for several years and have been impressed with their results. This has been quite a good autumn to assess the method as any crop will look good if rainfall has been adequate but not excessive. In both cases the crops were growing well in firm but non-compacted heavy clay and although wet, there were no massive lakes on the field corners as we sometimes see with our current system. Both farms seemed to have suffered worse black grass infestations than we have so hopefully we will be going into the system with the farm in a fairly good state. Because the procedure requires us to sow directly into stubble left by the previous crop, we have been warned that the farm will look messy and we must be prepared to accept that consequence. There should be benefits for some of our wildlife but they may not be particularly obvious. Now the decision has been taken, post harvest work cannot come quick enough to let us put the theories to the test.
Our current batch of pigs are nearly half way through their time with us and so far have been very healthy and hungry. We had a spot check this week by the RSPCA inspector who gave us a very glowing report which is very welcome. Apart from the fact that our parent company are losing money on every pig they sell due to extremely low prices, the only worry on the horizon is the PRRS – Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome – or Blue Ear. This is a nasty combination of viruses which cause pneumonia like problems and can kill quite a few pigs when it hits. It can spread on wind, vehicles and people’s clothing, feet and animals. Could I please ask that all walkers through the farm buildings do not go near the pigs. There is a foot dip for wellies by the little shed on Broughton Hall Lane. Hopefully the outbreak will decline when infected herds clear out and re-stock