Thursday, 27 September 2007

The Year of Food and Farming

On Wednesday night Jim Paice MP Shadow Minister of Agriculture and lots of other people were at Overbury Court for dinner to launch The Year of Food and Farming. The theory is to twin a school and a farm so that the school children can follow the year cycle of a farm and the food that is grown on that farm. Overbury is twinning with Wychall school in Northfield, Birmingham. I met the head teacher last night, Therese Allen, and we got on really well planning the forthcoming events for the children here at Overbury. We are planning lots of events for the children in the coming year. There will be some video casting from the farm office to keep the children in touch a little more regularly with what is happening on the farm.

Jim stayed over at the court and I had the privilege of showing him around the farm in glorious sunshine this morning. A very knowledgeable guy about lots of rural subjects, policing, agriculture, post offices, rural housing, rural job creation and the list goes on. A blast of fresh air and empathy for the farming community after all the ups and downs of the past year.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Work started this week on upgrading our sprayer filling/storage area on the farm. The new site is in the existing building, which was the site of a static pea viner, many years ago. The vines were cut in the fields at carried back on trailers before being fed into the machine where the peas were removed from the pods. These days the work is completed in the field by mobile pea viners which work 24 hrs a day to ensure that the peas are harvested and then transported to the freezing factory within 120 minutes.

We have decided to re-do our spray store and sprayer loading area to increase our safety to the environment when we are filling the sprayers. The store and filling area will be fully bunded so that if we have a leak whilst we are filling up the 'juice' can be contained in a special area. Touch wood we have not had a problem before and this should give us a state of the art area which will be fantastic to work in as well as giving the environment maximum protection. The dome to the left will also be the home to our re-cycling area where we will aim to store and then send for re-cycling as much of the waste produced on farm as possible. The works should take about 4 weeks to complete.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Movement at Last

It was a bleary eyed Farm Manager and Shepherd who loaded the first lambs into the sheep trailer at 4.15 this morning. The lambs where the first ones

to be moved after the livestock restrictions had been lifted on Sunday. We can now move lambs directly from the farm to the abattoir. These 44 lambs were destined for Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes in Powys. They will be on Sainsbury's shelves by the weekend marketed under the 'Cotswold Lamb' label. The trip took about 3 hours and was 109 miles. The sunrise was fantastic so I thought I would share it with you all as you were all still in bed! (Not that I am jealous at all)

Monday, 17 September 2007

Working Out at Work

Here is a quick clip for you to test your farming or machinery skills. Does any one have any idea of what I have been doing in the clip? The film was taken by Penelope in the farm yard in the middle of harvest.....maybe a clue there?

A little Red Faced!

What a terrific sight heading down Kinsham Lane, a field of blood red poppies waving their glorious flags for every one to witness. What are we witnessing? It was a slight oversight be me! The field was due to be re-planted with a second crop of salad onions, then it was meant to be peas, then we had the floods, then the harvest started in earnest so the field missed being cultivated to remove the small plants.

The field has been in arable production and has been treated with herbicides, growing food for over 30 years and yet given a chance the flowers re-colonise and establish with a bold bravado. These plants will have re-seeded allowing an other generation to witness the striking scene in the shadow of Bredon Hill. John 'The Fly Catcher' Clarke looked at the plant population and counted 15 further species of plant including Dovesfoot Cranesbill, Red Goosefoot and Pineapple weed. John also spotted a clouded yellow butterfly and a flock of Linnets. The field will soon be cultivated to prepare the soil ready to plant again with winter wheat, returning the seeds to the soil and into dormancy.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Foot and Mouth Disease

Well it's happened again only this time at a very important time for many livestock producers. Over the next month thousands of breeding sheep are due to be sold at auction all over the country. These sheep are born in April and spend the summer grazing the high moor areas of the UK before being brought off the fells and mountains and sold to 'lowland' sheep breeders (like us). These sheep are the main income for many hundreds of hill farmers and go to breed lamb the following year. Cattle farmers will also be weaning spring born calves at this time and they will usually be sold on to other farms for the winter. At the moment there is a complete shutdown on all movements of 'cloven hoofed' animals.

How does this affect us? We can't sell any lamb at the moment, lambs can't be taken to the abattoir and no sheep can be moved across any roads. We can't move the ewes to the stud, where they eat the grass for Simon. This works well for both of us in a normal year. The ewes chew down all the grass that the fussy horses leave. It also gets the ewes in good health ready to be mated. Will we have fewer lambs next lambing? Who knows watch this space.

Did the Government lift the restrictions too early? I didn't realise this but symptoms show in animals after 14 days but the virus can live in the soil, water and forage for up to 50 days!