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Dry legumes and sleeping deer

The current period of high-pressure dominance has given holiday makers some wonderful sunny days but trying to establish rape and new legume mix and cover crops is proving worryingly difficult. All the ditches are completely dry and any soil which has been moved is drying very quickly. Areas of cloud shown on the weather forecast seem never to reach this far south and east.

The week following the writing of last month’s notes was damp and while we kept having a go at harvesting the spring barley, the resulting crop did not raise much enthusiasm for bringing it in. The weather which produced the bountiful wheat crop did the opposite for the barley and by the time we managed to get it done, quite a few of the ears had dropped off. The resulting sample was too high in nitrogen to be suitable for malt and has instead been used for barley syrup. I don’t know what this is used for precisely, but I presume this is a food or bakery ingredient. At least we got a small premium over feed for it. The straw was all baled quickly and will be used for bedding, seating for fetes and parties and the usual 3D maze of big bales at Baylham Rare Breeds Farm. I am sure many readers would be amazed at the number of bales which are used for seating in the course of a year!

The spring beans completed our harvest with good yields of 5 tonnes per hectare on most fields. The exception was the large field at the top of the cart track which had suffered considerable damage from deer. There is a herd of about 15 Roe Deer which love this field. It is large and open with clear views in all directions which gives them a feeling of security. There were several circles 4 or 5 metres in diameter where the beans had flattened by the deer lying down and round all of the these the pods had been nibbled off the stems while growing. Our combine has the ability to display the weight per hectare it is harvesting at any time, so Charles was able to assess what had been lost from the field. Out of a possible yield of 60 tonnes for the field the deer had eaten 3 tonnes – 5% or £600 worth! Anyone for venison steak! They do look lovely though.

So harvest is finished and we are straight into preparations for next year. The rape has been sown on the fields by Quoits Meadow and East End Lane. So far only volunteer barley has emerged and when it does start emerging it will be very vulnerable to Flea Beetle with the current warm weather. Under the rules of the Mid-Tier Stewardship Scheme we have to re-establish our legume and grass plots which have been sown beside the cart track and by the entrance to Green Lane. The field which did have a spectacular show of clover and vetches this year has been mown off and will be sown with a late wheat crop in November.

A large flock of Goldfinch has been feeding on the bird food mix near our farm buildings. They will soon be joined by linnets and yellow hammers, as spilt grain on the fields is used up or turned in by cultivators. And so the circle of life turns slowly on the Arable Farm, Brexit or no Brexit!

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