Monday, 26 November 2012

this blog is moving

This blog is moving as the farm diary has now been incorporated into our fab new website.

To keep up to date with what's happening on the farm check out

Thursday, 11 October 2012

murmuration of starlings

Stepping outside the back door this afternoon I was hit by the sound of a murmuration of starlings in the trees by the pond. They were so noisy that the guinea fowl just stood dumbstruck.

The break in the wet weather gave us a chance to get the wheat drilled this morning. It's been a bit stop, go for drilling this year.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

oilseed rape crop

The ground is too wet to drill wheat this week, but the oilseed rape crop is growing well in The Ley. The crop is proving a little too tempting for the pigeons in the top corner of the field and the rabbits from the Country Park are enjoying a small patch at the other end of the field. But apart from that, it's looking good. At the moment.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Friday, 28 September 2012

how many days to Christmas?

Our first Christmas tree has been cut, netted and collected. Goodness, I thought Christmas was ages away.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

autumn cultivations

The sun is shining, but the air is cooler and summer coming to a close. The oilseed rape has been drilled and the plants are emerging so we're on the watch for pigeons that swoop in to feast on the young green plants. In the other fields, the golden yellow of the stubble has given way to brown as the soil is prepared for the next wheat crop.

Over the past few days, Lakes Field has been ploughed

Little Forest has been cultivated

Great Forest is rolled to break down the clods.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


We're missing a duck. Not lost, but savaged by a dog that ran into the yard. Someone from the stables found the duck floating limply in the water, its tail end raw and half chewed and the dog nearby trying to get at it again. The dog had no collar or means of identification so someone slipped a leading rope around it while we tried to contact the dog warden (as I certainly didn't want the dog on the farm) and Bill put the duck out of its agony. A few minutes later a man arrived on the farm searching for his dog. He was shown the duck. He offered money. We declined. He took the dog away using the leading rope because he didn't have a lead. A few days later an envelope arrived in the post. Inside was the leading rope and a latex glove. No note. Bizarre. By coincidence, the next day a friend had a chicken massacred in his yard by a dog that the owner didn't have on a lead. Not pleasant.

The last duck that sat on her eggs abandoned them shortly after I wrote about it. Now there is another duck sitting - The little brown duck has been sitting tight on her nest. The other ducks leave the run... read more

Monday, 20 August 2012

harvest 2012

The last field of wheat at Slamseys is being combined today. Yesterday the combine was near Felsted so the tractors and trailers were driving from the field back to the farm, tipping the load, driving back along the road (passing the other tractors headed the opposite way) and arriving back in the field just as the combine spout was swinging out ready to empty the next full tank of grain. It was all a bit frantic.

Today is easier as they’re combining Grove Field, which is next to the yard.

Even Beth is looking relaxed as she waits to drive alongside the combine for the next load.

When the trailer is full, she’ll take it back to the barn to tip it out. 

In the yard, Bill is taking the wheat from the barn and tipping it into the lorries that will transport it to the co-operative grain store.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


The oilseed rape in Gardeners Field has been combined and the ground has been cultivated.

The wheat growing in The Ley (next door to Great Notley Country Park) has been combined.
Now we have to wait for the rest of the wheat to ripen.

Friday, 10 August 2012

misty mornings

Walking along the bridleway in the mornings the mist has been hanging above the fields the past couple of mornings.

In Great Forest field, the oilseed rape has been cut and safely carted to the barn leaving fields of stubble.

 Wheat in Grove Field - almost ready to combine.

Friday, 3 August 2012

harvest 2012

Harvest has started at last. This is the combine cutting oilseed rape in Far Blackley field.

A happy tractor driver waiting for the next load of oilseed rape to go into the trailer.

The view through the back window of the tractor as it drives alongside the combine and the oilseed rape is emptied from the combine into the trailer.

Friday, 27 July 2012

around Little Forest and Grove field

Now that the hay bales have been carted away from the field (to be used as horse feed), we can see what's been lurking in the long grass, including lots of little frogs like this one.

The muck and straw removed from the stables is heaped up ready to be spread in the autumn. Over the last few days spiders have covered the top with cobwebs,

even building a bridge between the two peaks.

In Grove field the wheat is changing colour.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

making hay

The grass in Little Forest was cut on Saturday. Here you can see the wonderfully named mower going through the crop.

With cutters on the front and back, it makes a wide cut through the long grass.

The green grass lays spread out across the field, left to dry in the sun.

The grass is turned a couple of times, bringing the wet grass underneath to the top and spreading it out . The sun shines and the grass dries out to become hay. By Wednesday the grass had dried out - you can see how it's changed from grass green to much lighter green - and the hay put into rows.

As soon as the hay has been rowed up, the tractor and baler come in and drive along the rows. The baler picks up the hay, compresses it into a bale, ties it up and shoots the bale out the back.

By the end of the day we have a few fields of hay bales, ready to cart away.

There's a bit of film here showing the rowing up and baling - it's not very good quality because we have such a slow broadband connection that it takes hours to upload anything of higher definition and my camerawork is a bit jumpy.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

July weather

We could do with some sunshine and warmth to ripen the crops; the current prediction is for harvest to be at least a week later than normal.

oilseed rape 18th July

The oilseed rape was desiccated earlier this week to stop it growing and help even up maturity across the crop ...

wheat 5th July
wheat 18th July
and the wheat is slowly turning colour. 

Goodwrights Livery have taken over the running of the livery yard at the farm. Not only do they look very professional in their new shirts, but they've been busy painting the stables and tack room so that the livery yard is looking as smart as they do. It's good to see horses grazing in the paddocks again, though there's so much grass at the moment that they can't keep up. There are still a couple of stables available on the yard, so if you're looking for a livery yard for your horse, contact us and we'll pass your details on to Goodwrights Livery.

Friday, 6 July 2012

oilseed rape

oilseed rape 5th September 2011

oilseed rape 16th April 2012
oilseed rape 5th July 2012
You can see how our oilseed rape plants have grown over the last few months. The plants now stand nearly five foot high, the yellow flowers have died off and the seeds in the pods are beginning to develop.

This is one of the seedpods taken from the plants above
When the seedpod is split open, it reveals the tiny immature seeds inside.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

around the farm - the pig paddock

Although we call this field the Pig Paddock, there aren't pigs in here all the time so I think we should rename it Home Pasture as this was one of the names given to this field in the nineteenth century and it’s roughly the area that the original farmhouse is believed to have stood. In this corner we have ox-eye daisies that have crept from the verge alongside the chase.

 At the other end of the field, Beth has planted raspberries to be used in Slamseys Raspberry Gin; the first fruit are just beginning to turn colour.

planting blackthorn February 2012

blackthorn hedge July 2012

The blackthorn hedge that was planted earlier this year will separate the pigs from the raspberries and as well as forming a stockproof barrier, the sloes (which are the fruit of the blackthorn) will be picked for sloe gin. 

Beth Wheaton has developed and produced the fruit gins and we're very excited to have a new venture on the farm. So far Slamseys Drinks has bottled Raspberry Gin and Blackberry Gin, with Sloe Gin due to be bottled later this month. Although some of the raspberries had to be picked elsewhere last year, all the sloes and blackberries were picked from the hedgerows on the farm and the fruit then steeped in London Gin.
If you’re interested in buying some of this delicious gin, Slamseys Drinks will be selling at the Tendring Show and also Great Garnetts Farmers Market on 14th July. They'll also be at the Essex Food & Drink Festival at Cressing Temple on 21st and 22nd July.

Find out more on the Slamseys Drinks Facebook page.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Open Farm Sunday

We had great fun at Cressing Lodge Farm, Braintree at Open Farm Sunday when almost four hundred people came along to find out what happens on a farm.

New things to look at ...

Old things to look at ...

Children milled wheat into flour ...

... that we made into bread.

And the sun shone the whole day.