Monday, 21 May 2012

Reduced numbers

During the 1980s and 90s we grew strawberries, raspberries and other soft fruit here at Great Slamseys but then the Great Leighs by-pass was built through the middle of the fruit field and we had to close the Pick Your Own fruit business. The affected fields were too small for arable crops so we put them down to grass and built five stables in one of the barns, which we let out to someone wanting to run a livery yard.

Over the years Notley Livery has changed hands and the facilities have expanded to include more stables and grazing, a tack room and feed store, menege and horse walker. But recently, the ever increasing price of feed combined with the general economic uncertainty has meant that some riders have sold their horse or decided that full livery is too expensive which means the livery yard has been forced to close.

The horses are gradually being moved away and it seems sensible to reduce the number of stables for a while and return to the days of a small yard and a few horses out in the fields. So, from June we'll have six stables to let out, but are hoping that things will pick up over the next few months and eventually we can reinstate all the stables.
Meanwhile, every time I drive up the chase there are fewer horses in the fields alongside, which is rather sad.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sitting Duck

Despite the change in weather from hot and sunny through to cold and wet, the ducks have been laying plenty of eggs this spring. There haven't been so many to collect this week as one of the ducks has gone broody and decided to sit on her eggs. The other ducks lay on straw in the shelter, but this duck has chosed to wedge herself between the wall and the back of the shelter to make her nest. Ducks are notoriously bad mothers so I'm not sure how many (if any) ducklings will survive. The last duck to hatch any eggs decided that she only liked black ducklings and killed all the yellow ducklings as soon as they emerged from the eggs.

On the fields, the recent dry(ish) spell has given us a chance to spread some fertiliser on the wheat and spray the oilseed rape.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

a steady rain

The pond in Great Forest on 10th April

The pond in Great forest on 30th April 2012

We've had 70mm in a good, steady rain over the last few days. The land drains are feeding water into ditches that have been dry for months and the ponds are filling.