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.