This Month on the Farm April 2020
Although life for many has changed dramatically in the last few weeks here the farm rhythm of activity stays largely unaffected. The biggest shift for us is created by the change from winter into spring and the resulting mud into dry! The east wind turned fields that were sodden, dry in just a matter of days.
We’re just about to plant 30 acres with a herb rich grass ley (should be amazing for the insects) for cattle grazing and 15 acres with a clover and rye grass mix to provide silage. Planting ideally will take place last week of April or 1st week of May but at the moment as no rain is forecast and with the hot weather over Easter we’ve been reluctant to do too much cultivation for fear of drying the ground out. It will be a case of spotting the weather window and then working flat out to get it in!
April has to be the most dramatic month for anyone who observes seasonal changes, leaves and blossom explode, migrant birds arrive in there thousands and they along with our resident bird go straight to nest building. We’ve had many migrant species arriving, Black caps are one of my favorites – I’m still trying to get a recording of their call.
The Raven chicks are already hatched, they squawk from their pylon penthouse as I’m far below moving the electric fence for the sherling ewes. At the other end of the size range Great Tits are hauling balls of moss as big as themselves into a cracked breezeblock in the wood shed.
In these warm spring days the Orange Tips have also come out in force. Males first then, just as the Cuckoo Flower (the food plant of their young) comes into bloom, the females take to the wing. Perfect timing amongst the chaos of the word.
Back to farming! These turbulent few weeks have seen much interest in the meat that we retail. People are realizing that amazingly efficient as the supermarkets are, they struggle to cope if customers fractionally change their habits. This, I think is leading many people to look closer to home for their food and at shorter supply chains. The last beef we processed through our butchery was a great success and demand exceeded what we had. This month we will process 2 animals and again will have to do it with no outside help. Andy (brother) does the main butchering, Lindsay (wife) ties all the joints, Sheila (mother) vac packs and labels, and I trim the bones and make the mince. It is very hard work, not least because we would all rather be doing outside work but its great to know between the family we have the skills to get it all done.
The end of May will see the first of the lambs ready. Last year Lindsay won a Great Taste award for the lamb and she’s thinking of entering a mutton joint for the same blind taste tasting competition. Although we’ve increased the sheep numbers we anticipate demand for the lamb and mutton will be high so please do drop us an email if you’re interested or keep and eye on the Lydiard Turkeys online shop and facebook.
Although Lindsay and I have lost our small off farm incomes and money will be tighter we feel very lucky to be able to to continue our farming largely unaffected by the current turmoil and realise how lucky we are to live in a rural area. The current restrictions must be so much harder for anyone in towns or without company or support.