Monday, 20 February 2012

blackthorn planting

The area where the farm is situated was once a hamlet called Slamondesheia, which evolved from the Old English name of Sla-muntes-haeg meaning "enclosure of the sloe (tree) hill". Over the years there have been many spellings including Slamondshay, Slamondeseye and Slampseys and the house has been in White Notley, Black Notley and now Great Notley parish without ever moving. But we remain on a hill (a low Essex hill) and there are still plenty of sloes growing in the hedges. We’ve recently planted a new blackthorn hedge alongside the pig field to provide a bit of shade and shelter for the pigs and to increase our annual crop of sloes.

Friday, 17 February 2012

All good things come to an end

Arthur and Albert, the Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs, were taken to be slaughtered last week. I love having a couple of pigs running around the paddock or standing by the gate of their pen watching the world go as they wait for someone to scratch their back so it's easy to get attached and feel a little sad when they go off. On the other hand, I like to know where my meat comes from and now we have some delicious fresh pork to eat.
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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Christmas Tree Planting

At last the snow has thawed and we've been able to plant some more Christmas trees. We planted 100 Norway Spruce trees this week, which will be ready for cutting in five or six year's time.

Last week the snow almost covered the Nordman Fir trees that we planted last year. As you can see, they haven't grown much in a year.

Monday, 13 February 2012

muntjac deer

One of the good things about the snow that still sits on the fields here, is that we can see the tracks of the animals. I'm not sure which animal leaves which tracks though I can work out the rabbit tracks that keep close to the hedge and could see where the rat that had crept out from a hole in the wall, tiptoed along the edge of the duck run, through the wire mesh gate and under the door into the food store.

I probably wouldn't have worked out the tracks left by this muntjac deer. This little creature appeared in the garden, nibbling at whatever was laying beneath the crab apple tree. We often see muntjac deer on the farm but they rarely stand still long enough for me to find my camera and take a photo.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Snow! Yesterday morning Bill scraped the snow from the road into the farm and cleared the yard so the lorries and horse owners can get in.

The Christmas trees are under there somewhere.

Arthur keeps watch.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

pigeon scaring

Morris and I have been scaring the pigeons from the oilseed rape on this cold but bright afternoon. 

Up until now, the pigeons have still been feeding on acorns but now we've had some sharp frosts, the acorn shells will be hard and brittle so the pigeons will leave them and concentrate on the green leaves of the oilseed rape crop.