By jameshunter1, May 6 2017 04:16PM
Life up on the farm (by James Hunter)
The most noticeable thing on the farm this month has been the lack of rain. The normal rainfall for April is 42mm, but this year only totals 6mm. The advantage is that the cattle have enjoyed good dry weather since turning out & they have done well. The wheats are not able to take up the nitrogen and are looking a bit stressed. The spring barley has all come up, but the ground has dried up and is hard. The pre-emergence herbicide that was applied needs moisture for it to work, but there has not been enough. If the dry spell continues the potential yield will be reduced. We took a gamble a couple of months ago and sold the barley before we planted it. The price looked good. Hopefully we shall be able to combine enough in August to fulfil the contract!
If you have driven to Rushden recently you may have noticed the lack of yellow flowering rape fields. From the White Horse to the Rushden roundabout at the A6 I could only count 7 fields (5 good & 2 poor). This is a lot less than a few years ago when about a quarter would have been rape. Last autumn it was very difficult to get the small seed to germinate & grow and if it came up there was a major problem with slugs & flea beetle. The result is obvious to see, numerous failed & redrilled fields. The withdrawal of the neonicotinoid seed dressing has compounded the problems. This has made it very difficult to grow the crop. South of Bedford and Buckinghamshire are worse. Essex it is spot the rape field!
Early in the month Ruth & I slipped south for a cruise around the Canary isles. We were blessed with great weather, so good I even swam in the Atlantic! We met some friendly people and had excellent food on the ship. It was a better than normal holiday. There are some stories going round the village that I had trouble with my trousers. Hardly surprising considering what was eaten on board in a week. There were about 1350 passengers & 570 crew on the ship. In the week, according to cruise news, we consumed 2850Kg of flour, 1050Kg of sugar, 11 700 Kg of fruit & vegetables. The meat eaters got through 2750 Kg of beef, 2700kg of chicken & 1900 kg of lovely Seafood & fish!
Gavin also slipped south, down to the Devon Cattle Breeders AGM & dinner. At the dinner, no prizes for guessing the main course meat, the annual awards were made. Gavin was up & down collecting numerous awards. Firstly there was a silver bread basket for the best herd away from the south west. Secondly there was the calf trophy for the best large herd. The culmination was the large shield for the overall best herd in the country. Lastly a silver cup for Martyn’s effort, and a china mug to keep.
Finally I had a tinkering Easter. We had got back from holiday and the lawn needed mowing. I have been having a bit of trouble with the mower’s engine for a while. It never really went well after 4 star petrol was changed to lead free. I used to put in an additive but this year I was seriously struggling with it. Alas I admitted defeat and ordered a new Briggs & Stratton 4Hp over head valve engine. It now runs so sweet and the lawn is again cut with a quality Ransomes cylinder mower. If the new engines lasts as long as the old one, I shall be replacing it when I am 99!