So the theme for this month has been rain, rain, rain... To a non-farmer it might seem dry enough, however the ground has been too wet for any groundwork to be carried out. Some of the land which we had hoped to drill with winter cereals will have to wait until the spring when the ground has dried out as it is too late for winter cereals to be drilled. There are concerns about the price of spring barley seed rocketing with increased demand however we have got enough of our own seed saved from last year.
After 47 years working on the farm Keith Baalham has left to work with his son-in-law and daughter. Keith started working here when he was 16 in 1965 as the 3rd generation of Baalhams to work for 3 generations of Partridges. Keith worked as a fitter in the workshop, did most of the drilling and could fix anything! He will be missed.
With slow progress on the arable side, we have been carrying out lots of maintenance. One thing we have done is to replace conventional 150 watt light bulbs with equally bright 10w LED’s and 500w bulbs with 30w LED’s. This is in an effort to reduce energy use, both to save money and reduce our impact on the environment.
We have been doing some field drainage; an 800mm deep trench is dug and a 100mm diameter perforated plastic pipe is laid by a trenching/pipe-laying machine. Then a layer of 35mm diameter stones is laid on top by a stone carrier, finally a bulldozer pushes the soil back into the trench. These drains run in one direction across a field (spaced between 20m and 60m apart, depending on the soil) and all join a main drain at one end which then runs into a ditch or river. Perpendicular to the land drains are mole drains, these are tunnels created by a machine which drags a cylinder of metal called an expander at about 600mm below the ground, the expander forms a smooth tunnel in the clay that passes through the stone above the land drains. The idea is that the water runs through the mole drain until it reaches the stone and then flows down into the land drain.