Rain on the way?
These droughty conditions are making both arable and livestock farming especially challenging and coupled with high input costs, future effect on food prices is inevitable. Spring crop establishment has been particularly problematic but on the plus side, hot sunny days have enabled us to crack on with the combining. Winter barley, oilseed rape and wheat are completed and we’ve made good progress on the spring barley, peas and beans. Not having to worry about a change in the weather smoothed the haymaking process too, meaning we are now well stocked up for the Deane Valley livestock and our local customers. Lucerne is a new addition to our forage crops this year, enabling us to increase our on-farm protein production. Throughout the season, the tinder dry ground means the risk of fire is never far away with some serious harvesting incidents up and down the country. While this week’s light rain isn’t doing much for growing grass, the lessened hazard potential for a few days is a relief.
An exciting development on our regenerative farming agenda is the arrival of our new direct drill from Lincolnshire. Where conditions allow, this will enable us to establish crops with less soil disturbance and incorporate residues from previous cropping. This can boost soil health and structure by preserving the organic matter content, which will hopefully improve moisture retention for young crops in the future as well as benefiting microbe and earthworm populations.
On the livestock front, while lack of grass means nutritional benefits are limited, regularly moving the ewes provides the psychological advantages of fresh pasture. After spending the first part of the summer in the Deane Farm orchard, two rams have joined the flock with the others to follow shortly. Hopefully by Christmas time we will be in full swing for a busy lambing season!
The latest arrival is a group of new hens to our poultry enterprise. We are looking forward to them settling in and allowing us to increase our production of pasture reared eggs. Some of the old girls will be retiring this summer so if anyone is able to offer them a new home, please do get in touch!
More pigs will also be arriving at Deane Farm in the autumn. At the moment we have sausages available in packs of twelve for £8. If you would like to try our delicious produce, please contact us to arrange collection from the farm or local delivery. Deane Valley products sometimes feature on the Clipper Café menu so you can also head to Shaldon for the chance to try them too.
As we progress into midsummer, the rain will be very welcome when it eventually arrives but after a challenging growing season, fine harvest weather has certainly been appreciated!
If we can supply you with feed, bedding or rural contracting services, please feel free to get in touch. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join our mailing list for more Stokeinteignhead farming updates.