At last, we’re nearly at the end of the silly season. The silage, straw and haylage all safely gathered in and only one small paddock of hay still to go. It’s been a summer of ducking and diving around the weather with only a few days between the rain, but despite that we have managed to fill the hayshed and big bale area.
The summer has also seen lots of Hedgerow Safaris, mostly schools, but also Brownies on a day out, finishing their wildlife badge. We had a family fun day in August, which was well supported and, thankfully, the day was dry and the sun shone. There was a safari to the hedge to look at animals, plants and bugs led by Fin, Gill and Janey from OMSCo. There were animals to meet in the shed too: our wild lambs, who had consented to be rounded up, a new calf and two little Old Spot pigs. The latter a recent acquisition as part payment for some fencing work. A pen of Houdini chickens who were more out than in the pen completed the line up. Some visitors picnicked in the field; others partook of organic ploughman’s lunches or cream teas with lots of Yeo Valley organic dairy produce.
There was a flurry of creativity after lunch, producing flying bats, clay hedgehogs, mini beasts and corn figures. The parents seemed to enjoy it as much as the younger generation and event leader Fin showed himself to be multi-talented, as much at home here among the clay and pipecleaners as on safari in the hedge. Three wool spinners came along to show how to spin a sheep fleece, assuming you succeed in had rounding up and sheering your sheep.
David led a ramble to the bat cave (winter hibernation), up the Tump (a small hill to see the views) and the copse (our mini wood). Pond dipping was on offer and cows were looking over the wall in a nearby field, wondering who had invaded their domain. I think a good time was had by all – even a little lad who locked himself into one of the very successful composting toilets and had to be rescued with a screwdriver to the lock.
As we get near the end of August, other outdoor jobs are being addressed before winter. Dry stonewall restoration is under way, always an ongoing thing here as we have as many as hedges on this farm. Quite an acquired skill, knowing which rock to put where. This also provides an amazing wildlife habitat and it is surprising how many creatures like the stony nooks and crannies. They are very popular with frogs, toads and newts when they are not spawning in the pond.
Les has been busy with holiday craft workshops for children and also took the corn dolly making to a countryside day for schools at the North Somerset Agricultural Society showground. This was aimed at showing youngsters what farming is about and was attended by about 2,000 + school children. It certainly was a busy day with children everywhere, coming at you from all directions!
The next big event for us was the Dairy Event, which is held at the NEC Birmingham at the same time as our OMSCo AGM. Dave and Les volunteered for that big hardship – a day out leaving the rest of the family at home to do all the work.
As I write, nights are beginning to draw in and hawthorn and elder berries are appearing in the hedge as well as nearly ripe blackberries. Autumn is on the way. Our swallows have upped and left for warmer climates – sensible birds! A batch of calves have just been born – a few cows taking us by surprise and calving in the field and needing to be brought up to the farm for checking. This usually involves sitting the calf in the back of the 4 x 4 and hoping the cow will follow without trying to get in the vehicle with her calf. Our Friesian bull is currently in the naughty shed having decided to pen all the cows in a corner of the field away from water and grazing. Hopefully a few days there will improve his manners!
Our organic inspection and the end of year farm accounts are due soon so outdoor work is supposed to be balanced with lots of indoor paperwork and checking of records. This gets an instant response from the men folk, who suddenly find they have a multitude of urgent outdoor activities and disappear over the horizon until the paperwork is done. Hmmph!
Hopefully by the time of the next blog all this will have been dispatched and we will probably be digging out the woolly socks and hats and housing animals for the winter. Until then, keep drinking that organic milk and eating that organic dairy produce to make it all worthwhile!