Thursday, 26 May 2011

Down on the farm.

While all this has been going on - the holidays, the visits to churches, to art exhibitions and the like - life on the farm has gone on just as it has for generations. Nothing much changes; everything at this time of the year depends to a large extent upon the weather. And this year so far the weather has not been kind here to farmers, in spite of that wonderful early hot spell of sunshine.

The cattle are now all out in the fields. The winter loose housing still has the bedding, where it rots away and warms up delightfully so that it can be spread on the fields later in the year. In the meantime it is the favourite resting place of the farm cats - warm and within watching distance of the nesting swallows above in the rafters.

Swallows have returned and taken up their old nesting sites in barns and buildings, cleaning them out, busying themselves and finding some damp mud in the midden to help with the new-build. House martins have returned to the eaves of the farmhouse; sitting up in bed drinking my morning tea I watch them darting back and forth after insects.

My new Buff Orpington cockerel has settled in well and seems to be looking after his flock of assorted hens. But they are all quite small and he is a very big lad, so they seem to be doing their best to keep out of his way! Not a single one has gone broody yet but I shall watch out for a broody one as I would like to raise some chicks if I can (in spite of the farmer's opposition to the plan).

The Summer eatage cattle have come. Fifteen Belgian Blue cross heifers - thirteen of them very young and two in calf for the first time - are in the big pasture. They have settled in well but are very curious and follow us up the field getting as near as they dare without actually touching. Turn around and face them and they back off immediately. Tess is just a little scared and stays close until we are through the gate, where the heifers congregate to watch and dare each other to move an inch forward to my outstretched hand.

In the other big pasture thirteen heifers loll about in the grass, some of them stretched out flat to keep out of the wind. Both lots will stay in the pastures all Summer long.

The meadows are desperate for rain. It is silaging time but there is not enough grass on yet to make it worth while. Several farmers in the area have already begun. The weather has not been kind to farmers here in the North East. During the whole of May we have only had a little over an inch of rain and the grass is not growing as it should.

In the vegetable garden things are also at a standstill. There is a spurt of growth if the farmer waters with the hose pipe. We bought some runner bean plants at the weekend and because all danger of frost is not yet past we put them in our greenhouse (it has only limited glass in it as it is in such a bad place and we do not use it but it offers a little bit of shelter) Here on Monday the winds were reaching seventy miles an hour and they blew every single leaf off the runner bean plants and absolutely shredded the raspberry leaves.

The sheep and lambs came at the weekend. Each mother has two lambs and they have settled into the remaining pasture at the bottom of the yard. It is nice to see the fields full of stock again - even if it does all belong to somebody else.

Now the farmer waits to silage and haytime. He does haytiming for several people round about - mainly horsey people who have just one field and need the hay for winter feed. So now all depends on the weather.

In the meantime the grass under the Scots Pines usually has young birds of one kind or another. Demanding young blackbirds making a noise as the parents frantically gather food for them, young wood peckers learning to balance on the peanut feeders, young collared doves, hard to distinguish from their parents except that their plumage is somehow paler and neater.

Yes everything is as it should be here on the farm. All we need now is several days of still, warm, pouring rain.


Tom Stephenson said...

There is a noticeable lack of swallows and swifts in the Bath area this year - I wonder why?

Dave King said...

I go along with your final sentence. A delightful picture you paint - as always - of life on the farm. Brilliant post. Thank you.

Dartford Warbler said...

A lovely description of the farm. I could see it all in my mind`s eye.

Four out of five swallow nests are being used here this year. They arrived later than last year, in the last days of April. There are discarded halves of egg shell on the animal bedding beneath the nests, so we must have chicks.

After a poor hay harvest last year, all of us with grazing animals are hoping for better this summer. Several days of soft rain would indeed be welcome!

Crafty Green Poet said...

hope you get your rain soon!

steven said...

those lucky cats!!! in a warm barn watching dinner flying around! steven

Heather said...

I am very concerned for farmers and growers with this continued lack of rain. We have had some this morning - hope yours will arrive soon. It has been a joy to watch the various fledglings in the garden this year. Lovely post Pat - I like the idea that life goes on much as usual on the farm.

John Gray said...

a meandering and wonderfully paced post
thank you

Pomona said...

I sympathize with you - we have not had significant rain since March and it has also been windy here (although not quite so windy as you). We have been spending hours watering, and we planted over two hundred trees and a lot of hedgerow early in the year which is now looking very distressed.

Pomona x

maggi said...

You paint such a vivid picture. I do hope that the much needed rain arrives soon for you.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

May you have rain......and may we in northeast Ohio have less rain....May the world find balance....Two nights this week I've been in the basement for tornado watches.

angryparsnip said...

The cows are so beautiful !
Love how they are curious but not enough to touch.

Love the photo of the sheep in the pasture. It looks so green even if you said there has been little rain.

Lovely !

cheers, parsnip

H said...

My aunt and uncle were dairy farmers and Aunty M often used to hand rear calves. She said that, even the hand reared ones became wary of being touched as they grew older.

Cloudia said...

I love visiting your lovely place!

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




ChrisJ said...

Such a wonderful description of a slice of life on the farm in Yorkshire. Thank you so much!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Tom speaks of a lack of swallows and swifts. Has anyone else noticed it? We have less swifts but swallows as normal.

Since my post there have been a lot of really heavy thunder showers and already the countryside looks greener.

Thank you for taking the time to call in - I do appreciate your cyber-friendship.

Shirley said...

I hope you get the rain you need soon. Farming and gardening so desperately need the moisture. Good to hear that everything else is in order. Enjoy your weekend.

The Gardening Life