April on the farm. (2021)

Blackthorn Flowers

Richard Fonge writes:

This is one of the latest springs for sometime. A true blackthorn winter. When the blackthorn is out you always get some cold wintry weather, and a chill wind even with the sun out, and frosty nights .The hedges are very late in coming out in leaf, grass growth is slow and the spring sown crops are desperate for a rain to get germination and growth going. The blackthorn is just starting to go over, so the end of the month should see some rain. I always see the first swallow around the tenth of the month. This year the 18th.

The fields up the concrete road look a picture now they have been sown. Barley this side of the bridge, wheat the other side. Ewes and lambs surround us, but two flocks I would like to highlight . On The footpath from behind Wemyss farm, in the second field a flock of Romney Marsh have lambed outside, very successfully I should think. The Romney has a relatively small lamb, making it an easy lamber, and with the better weather and longer days it is much more beneficial for all concerned to lamb outside.
The second flock are up the Moreton road on the left as you climb the hill. If you look closely, it can be seen that each sheep has only one lamb. These are first time lambers or ewe lambs, and you will only get the odd set of twins. Sheep terminology is complicated and here are some terms explained: Ewe lamb a one year old. Theave a two year old female. Wether or hogget a castrated male over nine months. Ewe a three year old female. Tup an entire male used for breeding. These terms change from region to region.

It is twenty years ago that the foot and mouth outbreak brought such great carnage and distress to the countryside, with thousands of sheep and cattle slaughtered and many families seriously affected emotionally and financially. But out of it came the traceability of all livestock with micro chipping, and this in turn allows all consumers to trace their meat back to the farm it was reared on.

Finally young steers have today been turned out in the big close for the summer. So good to see cattle in the field again. A reminder to keep dogs on a lead when using the footpath.

PS. Great delight, heard the cuckoo at 8.30 a.m. (20th April), over towards Peter’s Bridge.

Richard Fonge



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