Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tidying the yard

We've been doing a bit of clearing and tidying around the yard.

While the ditches are dry, the scrubby growth and brambles are being cut down and pulled out.

Pig Paddock - Before

Pig Paddock - After

What an improvement.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

around the fields - The Blackleys

Big Blackley looking towards Blackley Lane

field entrance from the road

The bridleway from Great Forest leads into Big Blackley field and out onto Blackley Lane (which was sometimes known as Dragon Lane in the past). It’s a sad fact that rural crime is on the increase; all field entrances on roads are now blocked by bollards such as these or by padlocked gates and large pieces of farm machinery to stop people driving onto the fields to dump unwanted vehicles, joy ride across the crop, set up illegal camps or to break into buildings and farmyards to steal. 

public footpath signs

Big Blackley field borders Blackley Lane up to Gypsy Corner where people park in the gateway to canoodle, flytip (builders' rubble, garden rubbish, house rubbish ...), partake in illegal substances, let their dogs out or just sit in their cars in the sunshine while they eat their lunch and enjoy the countryside. But when you've dodged the rubbish, skirted around the piece of farm machinery (see above) and stepped carefully through the dog mess you have a choice of footpaths to follow. 

footpath between the two Blackley fields
One footpath heads off towards Willows Green and the other cuts down between the two fields, with Far Blackley on the left and Big Blackley on the right, heading towards Gardeners Field. 

behind the trees

 Halfway down the footpath a little copse of trees hides a dark pond that is beginning to dry out.  


The blackthorn hedges around the field are covered in blossom this month and we're hoping they'll have a good crop of sloes this autumn. 

Monday, 16 April 2012


There's no rain forecast today, so it's a good time to catch up with some spraying. The tractor and sprayer have been out spraying wheat while the knapsack sprayer is used in the Christmas trees.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

around the fields - Great Forest

Great Forest field covers an area of almost 13 hectares and as you can see, it isn’t a forest but is growing a crop of oilseed rape this year that is just coming into flower. 

A gateway from Little Forest field leads onto the public bridleway that runs through the farm from Great Notley Country Park to Blackley Lane.  Anyone has the right to walk or ride a horse along the public bridleway; cyclists can also use bridleways (but not footpaths) though they have to give way to walkers and riders. Growing alongside the bridleway in the grass you can see paigles and violets.

On a farm map of 1849, this field is divided into four smaller fields: Lower Forest Field, Little Forest Field, Three Corner Pasture, and Horse Pasture. The photo above would have been in Three Corner Pasture. The willow trees were originally planted for cricket bat production but now seem to be providing a resting place for pigeons and you can see where they've hopped down to eat the oilseed rape crop.

ivy climbing up a tree trunk

This little pond, which is dried up and rather overgrown at the moment, is in the corner where Horse Pasture and Lower Forest Field joined, with Gardeners field behind.

This is the view from the pond, looking back to the yard.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

around the farm - Little Forest

To continue our look around the farm …
sand school

At the end of Barn Field, just behind the barns, we have a sand school that’s used by the livery yard riders. This is a specially constructed arena that allows riders to exercise their horses all year as it doesn’t get muddy in winter or hard and compacted in summer. A compacted stone base was laid, covered with a geotextile membrane and topped with a silica sand and recycled rubber mix.
The Mott
Next to the arena is The Mott, which separates Barn Field and Little Forest. This is just a wide ditch though the fact that it's been given a name suggests it may have been more important in the past. We've had so little rain over the winter that it's dry at the moment.

Little Forest looking west
Little Forest is another small grass field (3.59 hectares); we took a cut of hay from this field last summer and will do the same again this year and then fence it so the horses can be put in here to graze.
Little Forest looking back towards the yard
The hedge on the left of the photo is made up of many species including hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, holly, field maple , dog rose and bramble, which makes it very good for fruit and nut foraging.

Monday, 2 April 2012

oilseed rape

The oilseed rape is growing taller and we need to pull the bird scarers out of the field before they get hidden by the growing crop. Our crops are not quite on flower, but I've seen a few yellow fields around.

The pigeons are still lurking so we're still trying to keep them away.