February on the Farm (2019)

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Photograph: John Sheppard

Richard Fonge writes:

It certainly feels very springlike as I write these notes. One of the first sounds of Spring is the noise of the woodpecker tapping away at his tree trunk. I first heard him this year on the 12th of February up the gated road to Weston. Farming wise all is still very quiet, but with this mild spell and dry ground to travel on tractors will soon be seen apply nitrogen to the oil seed rape up the concrete road, where considerable damage has been done to the crop in certain areas by pigeons. This will enable the crop to grow away from them. When they descend in their hundreds onto the oil seed rape they can soon do irreparable damage, resulting in substantial loss of yield.

You may have noticed the hedge along Little Street has had its gaps planted with new thorn plants. These are replacing the elderberry bushes which have been sprayed out. Elder is not a plant you want in a field hedge, as it dominates and is in no way a deterrent to stock. Whilst you need a field hedge made up of a variety of species, elder is not one of them. A hedge is a wildlife corridor as well as a boundary.

The lambing season will soon be in full swing, and ewes and their lambs will be re-stocking the grass fields around the village. A true sign of Spring, so make sure all dogs are on leads and under control when walking through them. These permanent pasture fields in our parish are so important for lamb production and keeping the balance between livestock and corn. 

These are interesting and challenging times for us all with a great deal of uncertainty, none more so than the Farmer with pressure from many lobbying groups. But one thing is definite and that is we all have to be fed, and that food is produced from the land.

Richard Fonge.



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