Friday, 25 March 2011

Harrowing grass

The sun is shining, the primroses are flowering and the skylarks are in full song overhead. Wonderful.

This week the grass paddocks have been harrowed to clear out any moss and shallow-rooted weeds like chickweed and will open up the soil surface to help the fertiliser work. This should produce vigorous growth, which means the horses will have plenty of grass later in the year.

We have also been chasing pigeons off the oilseed rape. Again. But you knew that didn't you?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Spraying Great Forest

This week Great Forest field has been sprayed for grass weed control at a rate of 400 grammes of chemical dissolved in 100 litres of water per hectare.

sprayer nozzles

As ever we are subject to official regulations …
   the operator is on the national register of sprayer operators
   our pesticide records were checked this month
   every year the sprayer must have a safety check
   our chemical containers must be collected by a specialist waste contractor…

This week we have also been spreading fertiliser and still chasing those wretched pigeons off the oilseed rape crop.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A little spring sunshine

No matter how long or short, a walk around the fields in the spring sunshine is a real pleasure. I am more interested in the top of the hedgerows as they start to burst into life while Morris the fox terrier is more interested in the bottom of the hedgerows, where he searches for rabbits.

Morris has also taken against the artificial hawk that hovers above the oilseed rape fields scaring pigeons and he stands braced and ready for action as the bird swoops and swerves on its pole. This is just one of the scare tactics used to keep the pigeons away; we've also attached flapping bits of plastic to lots of sticks and stuck them in the field and last week one of the pigeon shooters shot over forty birds in one session.

The pigeons had grown very plump on all the fresh green leaves of our oilseed rape plants and so with the four I was given, I marinaded the breasts in a little cold pressed rapeseed oil and chopped thyme, then quickly cooked them in the griddle pan. They tasted delicious. And yes, it was with a certain ironic delight that I used rapeseed oil. 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Duck Eggs

I suspected the ducks were laying eggs but I couldn’t find them until I crawled into their shelter and scrabbled in the straw to find this little lot hidden away. So, it's good that it’s Shrove Tuesday and I can use some of them for pancakes.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fertiliser Spreading

1 fertiliser on way to field by anne.wheaton

The contractors have been spreading fertiliser on the wheat crop in Great Forest over the weekend. Historically, sulphur (which the crop needs for growth) was available in the atmosphere but with reduced emissions of sulphur we now have to apply it together with nitrogen, which boosts plant growth.

The fertiliser is taken down the field so that it is ready to be loaded into the spreader. Each bag holds half a tonne of fertiliser.

When the spreader is empty, the driver pulls up next to the bags, which are lifted in pairs above the spreader.

 The bottom of the bags are cut open so that the fertiliser flows into the spreader.

When all four bags have been emptied into the spreader, the driver resumes spreading.

fertilier applied to the wheat in Great Forest

The small white balls are fertiliser.

Friday, 4 March 2011


snowdrops by anne.wheaton

Very recently, a Man with a Caravan couldn't get out of the caravan site. No matter how many times he waved his fob across the sensor, the gate remained resolutely shut. "No worry" said I, for I had seen the Electrician fiddling with switches and boxes. "The power is off". So the Electrician switched back the power and the Man with a Caravan waved his fob again. The gate remained shut. Lights flashed on the keypad and I pressed some buttons. But still the gate wouldn't open. The Electrician tried. I tried again. The Man with a Caravan tried again. The Agronomist walked over to investigate and he tried. Even the Dog from the Stables would have tried if she'd been able to reach. The Man with a Caravan joked that he would just have to camp out for the night. Eventually Bill arrived and released him but only after I had managed to wipe all the fob codes from the system. So now we are reprogramming the fobs, which takes a while and we are very grateful to all our caravanners for their patience and understanding.

Meanwhile we have been to Feast East to do a little research for future projects and took the chance to sample lots of produce, including the rather delicious Caramel Vodka.