Wednesday, 29 June 2011

today in Little Forest

 This bee was working its way along the blackberry flowers.

The grass was cut for hay.

Hazel nuts in the hedge.

Scabious growing by the track.

Friday, 24 June 2011

hen and chicks

The little brown hen still has her three chicks in tow and remains fiercely protective, launching an attack on any hen that dares to get too close. Even the guinea fowl steps back as she marches into the henhouse calling her brood to follow. Unfortunately, the chicks don’t like walking past the guinea fowl so they dither or try to go under the gate and there is general confusion outside the pop-hole. Then with a flapping of wings the mother hen rushes out, scolding all and sundry as she gathers her chicks and escorts them inside. 

wild oat pulling

a clean crop of wheat in Big Blackley
Last week - high tech farming. This week - old fashioned hand roguing wild oats. Walking up and down the field along the tramlines, pulling out wild oats. We do this in fields growing next year’s seed crop so that the wild oat seed isn’t harvested with the wheat and then spread across the field next year and it's not worth spraying as there are so few wild oats. It isn’t the most exciting job and I’m too easily diverted by the skylarks that fly up from the tramline ahead and then sing above us as we plod up and down.


Monday, 20 June 2011

new technology and politics

Last week was the Cereals Event, a large technical show for the arable sector showing the newest machinery and crop technology and Bill went off with a long list of things to see and do and came home laden down with brochures and information packs. 

He also brought back two bags of flour grown and milled in the UK, which have since been turned into cheese scones and a loaf of bread, proving that we don’t need imported wheat to produce good baking.

The new technology continued with the fitting of photo voltaic panels to the roof of the house so that we can generate some of our domestic electricity from sunlight. Since the installation, we’ve been watching the generated units mount up on the meter so saving a little bit on our electricity bill, though if everyone turned off the lights when they left the room then we’d probably save just as much.

The week ended with some political lobbying at the annual lunch meeting between farmers from the local branch of the National Farmers Union and two local MPs. It was a good chance to question the politicians about their policies and to discuss and pass on information about issues affecting farming and the rural community.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Open Farm Sunday a success

bread making at Open Farm Sunday (photo by S Brady)

For weeks we've been saying that we need rain and at last we seem to have got some. Just in time for Open Farm Sunday!

But despite the rain yesterday, crowds of people turned up to Gate Farm, Great Leighs for Open Farm Sunday. James Hawkes invited everyone there to show how food is produced and how it relates to where we live. So there were displays showing what is grown and what it’s made into, a wildlife habitats laboratory, crop establishment trail, guided tractor and trailer tours, sheep and cattle, grain store tours, activities for children and the chance to ask lots of questions. We really enjoyed helping and hope that all the visitors had a good day.

There’s lots of information about farms all over the country on and competitions to enter.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

getting ready for Open Farm Sunday

I’ve been getting ready for Open Farm Sunday by practising my soda bread making this morning. This loaf has been made with 100% home grown wheat and seems to have turned out alright. I’ll be making more bread on Sunday 12th June at Gate Farm, Moulsham Hall Lane, Great Leighs, Chelmsford CM3 1PZ and Jayne Porter from Humble Cooking will be doing a hands on biscuit baking session for children in the afternoon. There’ll also be a chance to mill your own wheat, take a trailer ride, look at the animals ...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Open Farm Sunday

Did you know that 15% of adults didn’t know that a dairy cow is female and that 20% didn’t know that acorns come from oak trees? More and more people are losing touch with the countryside and food production.

Last week I was shocked to find that none of the chilled Indian chicken dishes in Tesco was labelled as containing British chicken and when I talk to people about it, they shrug their shoulders and think I’m making a fuss about nothing. I passionately believe in British food; we have some of the highest welfare standards in the world and although British farmers produce wonderful food they aren't always good at explaining what they do and why it's important. So I think Open Farm Sunday is a really good way for everybody to get out onto a farm to find out more. It gives people the chance to reconnect with the countryside and to learn about life on Britain’s farms – to find out where our food comes from, what technology is used and the role that farmers play in caring for the countryside.
This Sunday our neighbour James Hawkes is hosting Open Farm Sunday at Gate Farm, Moulsham Hall Lane, Great Leighs CM3 1PZ and we’ll be there to help him. There’ll be tractor and trailer rides, sheep and lambs, baking and lots to see and touch. Find out more by visiting Open Farm Sunday.