The weather has been good for lambing, drilling and lawn mowing, but now we really do need some rain. It does sound as if our prayers may be answered by the weekend if the forecast is to be believed.
The gloom mongers have predicted that this dry weather was set in for the next three months, I really hope they were just winding me up. For if that is so, we would be in big trouble. The grass has hardly grown and the arable crops, although looking well now, will become stressed and susceptible to disease unless they get a good soaking.
Three loads of barley left the farm last week, ninety tons in all. The very charming Russian and Polish truck drivers who transported it to Tilbury, complained that they were being kept waiting up to five hours at the docks before they could unload. It seems there was a particularly bad bottle neck as the grain merchants scramble to get the grain to the ships currently in port.
On Sunday I collected some more young Sussex steers. It is good to see the yard which four weeks ago was almost empty, filling up. We now have a yard almost full of fine looking yearlings and it will be good to get them out in the fields soon, but until there is sufficient grass they will have to stay put. Fortunately we still have plenty of hay and barley, so for now they are quite content.
I have decided I want a flame thrower! These old fashioned gadgets are apparently being reintroduced as the latest ‘must have’ gizmo for keen gardeners. The Sheen X300 Flame Gun is paraffin fuelled and once pumped up a foot-long jet of flame shoots out and incinerates everything that gets in its way. This sounds a little tame; what I want is a mighty version which can be used in the stubble fields after harvest to destroy the weed seeds, pests and diseases. A flame thrower sounds just the job and of course differs from the old fashioned box of matches used for ‘stubble burning’ which has regrettably been banned!
The arsenal of chemical coshes which we are able to use to achieve a clean and healthy crop has diminished year on year, as EU regulations dictate what we can and cannot use. If the fields could be cleaned up in the old fashioned but effective way, by burning, we could save on costs including labour, chemicals and diesel. I wonder what it takes to encourage the powers that be who dictate these rules and regulations, to recognise that sometimes the old methods are the best.
The wheat and barley look well but the combination of cold nights, lack of rain and drying winds is delaying growth. This has fortunately delayed diseases such as septoria in the crop, and so impacts upon the timing of spaying fungicides and further applications of fertiliser. However we must be ready to act fast when the right time comes and hope the wind is not blowing quite so aggressively.
The election campaign continues apace, unfortunately there appears to be a nasty undertone of personal attacks which on the whole is not impressing the public. It seems that Nicola Sturgen has dominated the airwaves which is puzzling as she is personally not standing for a Westminster seat. It is surprising that the press and media give her and the SNP so much space and air time considering they represent only a minority of UK voters, in Scotland.
We are still waiting for one of the party leaders to bring the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Whether this will happen so late in the day time will tell. It is fairly certain that unless something dramatic happens soon, the next Government will be a cacophony of mismatched individuals who will struggle to achieve anything worthwhile.
Carola Godman Irvine