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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Down on the Farm

In the deep mid winter, all is quiet on the farm. As the winter moves in, life on the farm slows down and the list of winter jobs written on the wall slowly get reduced day by day.

For the past month we have 750 sheep on the farm, three different flocks all grazing our herbage grass crops tight to the ground and a smaller flock concentrating on grazing our conservation grassland. It is nice to have the sheep on the farm but they do need to be checked twice a day as some get stuck on their backs and occasionally we have an escapee!
Twice a week, one of us will be out and about adding supplement feed to our areas of wild seed mix that, due to the dry spring, have not filled out with as much natural food as we had hoped, so each area gets 50kg of old wheat and rape seed that has been sieved out of the crop that we put in the barn during harvest.
Pigeons are also flocking up and starting to move in on the nice lush Oil Seed Rape fields, so every day we will be out checking on the number of deterrents such as kites, gas bangers, rope bangers and scarecrows. If we did not use these deterrents, we come out of winter with either no plants or a crop that has been grazed and is very patchy and not consistent, and the yield would never be gained.
John has been busy going through all our machines giving them a service, so that they are in tip top condition when we need them and will remain in full working order. He has also been busy in the barn cleaning and bagging up all our Grass Seed we harvested this year. The grass is passed over a number of sieves of different sizes and has wind blown through it to remove any weed seeds and bits of grass stalk that would affect the purity. If they were left in there, we would be penalised financially as the contract is for seed that is 98%+ purity to get the top grade.
Nick is showing his full range of skills with our annual building checks and repairs. This year the farm office is being given the once-over, so paint, new cupboards and floors have been fixed and hopefully the dust will settle. He has also been helping Patrick with other projects in the Cottages, as well as wielding the chainsaw on the few days that have been nice enough to be outside, with some scrub clearance and our next stage of pond clearance.
Apart from decoration, the office is busy with paper work and planning for next year, I have been looking at fertiliser plans, analysing yield maps from harvest and keeping up to date with all the crop records from all the passes that have happened since harvest. Patrick has been keeping the accounts all up to date and has been busy looking into possibly installing PV solar panels on a few buildings.
It is amazing that the list of jobs never ends and we are so busy throughout the cold months. This year we are earlier doing these as we had an efficient autumn, so early in the New Year, we may be able to start some more ambitious projects like rain harvesting, a new chemical store, a revamp of the bygones collection and more conservation work.
The crops are all slowing up with the frost and as the nutrients in the soil become less readily available. It has been difficult on the crops with this mild winter as the disease has been high and this is why they have a yellow tinge to them as green leaf has died due to Mildew and some early rust that we would expect in the spring!
All in all, life is never dull and every day is different for us.
We wish you all a Happy Christmas and thanks from us for reading these snippets into our working life that we post, sorry that they have been a little irregular. Enjoy your Festive season. BWB

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