FEBRUARY 2016


We have had our share of windy days this winter even if we have avoided flooding and frost.  So far they have been westerly or southerly so we have avoided the bitter east wind which can cut through anything in its path.  It would appear that the weekend coming may change all that but we will await a snowy Valentine’s Day with enthusiasm!! There seems to be a bit of growth in both grass and field crops but nothing, apart from spring flowers, which will be harmed by sharp weather.

This month we have been attending various training sessions and meetings with grain merchants to learn what their predictions for the year ahead are - from the consumer’s point of view, no reason for prices to rise this year.  The world uses about 700 million tonnes of wheat a year and we have had three successive global harvests exceeding this figure.  So world stocks are rising and prices falling.  As we go forward the statistical chance of harvests remaining that good becomes smaller.  Currency fluctuations are very important and a strong pound against the dollar and euro does not help our exports.  So we must plan for wheat sales at not much over £100 per tonne, keep our costs low as possible and tough it out.

We have just finished coppicing a hedge near Crowfield Road which had not been touched for many years.  It had a lot of dead elm in it which was beginning to fall over and was long overdue for attention.  The wet autumn prevented us from using the forklift for burning up the top and carting away the wood so we still have a lot to do when the grass dries up.  We have watched with interest our neighbour on the A1120 doing the same job to a much smaller hedge with an attachment on a 360’ digger.  This works like a giant garden lopper to cut the plants at the top of the stem and pile the tops up.  He has then been cutting the stems at ground level with a chain saw.  The hedge will then bush up from the bottom and should result in a lovely thick growth within a few years.  An excellent example of modern machinery doing a traditional job very quickly and efficiently.

Last week we had a call from the police to tell us that some black bin bags had been dumped on the land that we farm at Mickfield.  There was half a trailer load to clear up and muttering about lazy so and sos who can’t bother to go to the tip, we dispatched Jason to clear them up.  When we got there we found out that the police had got involved because the rubbish was the remains of a cannabis farm and they wanted to make sure that the offending herbs were disposed of on a bonfire.  Whether the environment agency would have given us a derogation to create the world’s biggest joint this side of Kingston, I don’t know, but if the boys in blue ask us to burn it, then burn it we will!  So if any residents of Stowmarket Road felt unusually happy last Friday and any dogs were difficult to rouse from their slumber, we were only obeying orders – honestly gov!

DAVID TYDEMAN