Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Harvest Progress

Well we're nearly half way through the harvest this year and its been a very catchy time.  We manage to harvest for a day here and half a day there constantly being stopped by heavy showers which is very frustrating!  On the positive side all of the Oilseed rape and Winter Barley has been harvested in good condition.  All of the barley has been shipped, either to the maltings at Burton on Trent or into a seed plant for dressing before being sold out to the farmers to plant later this year.  Winter barley yields have been acceptable considering the year, it was very dry through the start of the season then constantly wet from May onwards, when sunshine was needed.  As a result the grains were quite small and light, which lost some yield but the germination was fine and the crop came in dry.  The oilseed rape crop was variable but I think we'll end up just above our average yield although I don't know what the oil levels are like within the seed which has an impact on the value of the crop.  The pods did seem fairly small this year which was disappointing but again not unsurprising considering the lack of summer this year!
So it is now on wards with the wheat harvest.  Early indications are a low grain weight but not a disaster and high proteins as a result.  It's too early to say any thing about the grain yield but fingers crossed we can all have a 10 day spell of good weather to gather the crop in the best conditions with low harvesting and drying costs.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Yellow Hammer Heaven

Earlier in June John Clarke was out looking at the stewardship margins that have been left to self seed this year with arable wild flowers.  In addition to a host of very interesting species including meadow buttercup, field and long headed poppy, white campion, venus looking glass, scented mayweed, pineapple weed, field gromwell and cornflowers he also stumbled (almost) on a Yellow Hammer Nest.  It is quite rare for these little birds to nest on the ground, especially adjacent to a bridleway that is heavily trafficked with walkers and their roaming dogs!  It was a real treat to have established an area for wildlife and for them to actually use it!  I guess they felt secure in the thick wild flower cover and there must have been an abundance of food.  Even this summer there were lots of insects feeding on the wild flowers, themselves being a taste snack for the farmland birds in the area.
This is where the nest was and as you can see it was a really lucky find.  The nest wasn't disturbed and hopefully the eggs would have hatched.  Judging by the large numbers of Yellow Hammers there this morning, the population in this small part of England is turning more yellow, if not Gold!