I planted a high yielding six row feed variety of barley for which I am grateful as I would have difficulty finding a buyer for a malting variety which requires a very clean sample and high speck, certainly without any wheat amongst it. As it is I have warned the grain merchants that I will be expecting an extra premium as wheat is more valuable than barley for feed!
Within about 30 minutes of the combine starting to roll in the first field my mobile was busy with local farmers asking if they could buy the straw. Sadly I was unable to help as we need all the barley straw to feed to the Sussex cattle over winter.
We were promised rain last week on several occasions so we baled the straw quickly and got it under cover. The rain never came which was a disappointment but I suppose it did mean we had a clear run with the combine.
Grain prices are beginning to creep upwards. The UK is not the only country suffering from drought and adverse growing conditions. The expectations for the world grain reserves has been down-graded which will help the price but as our yields are likely to be well down on normal years it will make little difference to the margins.
The grass has stopped growing completely, the little rain we had a couple of weeks ago made little difference. I am concerned for farmers who have large numbers of cattle to feed over winter. The maize crops are coping reasonably well as they have an amazing root system which penetrates deep down to find the moisture, but those relying upon a further cut of silage must be getting very worried.
The Argentinean polo ponies are feeling at home as the drought conditions are what they are used to back home in Argentina. However their owner Jeronimo keeps asking me where the traditional English lush green grass has gone! I believe many of the ponies are beginning to suffer from the hard ground as not all polo clubs are as fortunate as Cowdray Park to have the forgiving sandy soil combined with the opportunity to water their grounds.
Both the Gold Cup at Cowdray Park and the Cartier International at the Guards Club Winsor polo tournaments have taken place. They are amongst the most prestigious events of the English Polo Season and thousand attend these enjoyable tournaments to see the fast, furious and skilful horsemanship. Also I believe many are there to observe the beautiful people!
It is now the turn of the Pony Club when hundreds of children, ponies and parents will be attending the knockout tournaments all over the country, all desperately keen to qualify for the final week when the Pony Club takes over Cowdray Park. It is a wonderful sight to see the enthusiasm of the children on their dinky ponies rushing around chasing the ball in the novice tournaments, through to the more senior children competing for the prestigious Gannon League and Championship.
The Pony Club is where most of the best British players learnt their trade. Players like Henry Brett, Nina Vestey and Max Routledge all top British players came through the Pony Club and in some cases the hunting fields which turned them and thousands of children into excellent horsemen and exceedingly capable polo players.
I hear that it is a difficult year for the village horticultural shows which are always popular and generally well supported. I suspect the late spring and dry season has caused difficulties. There has been some skulduggery in some villages where rivalry is keen and some flowers and vegetables have been vandalised. I think this is surely a case for Miss Marples to investigate, it sounds very un-British!
I am glad to hear that no such thing occurred in the village of Bishopstone where I am delighted to hear that my friend David Allam (past chairman of the South of England Agricultural Society) won an award for his excellent lettuce. David was always recognised for his expertise and specialist knowledge on poultry. He reared rare breeds of chickens which are now sadly no more thanks to the local fox! It is good to see him branching out so successfully into vegetables. No doubt he now battles with the rabbits!
Carola Godman Law