As we move into summer and the weather has warmed up, we are reaching optimum grass growth and nutrition. Farmers will be out fertilising the pasture fields, having shut them off from being grazed for 6 weeks. Then the grass will be cut and clamped or baled for keeping until winter. Maybe the field will have more than one cut taken, but much depends on the availability and price of fertiliser and whether, or not, it has been bought in advance. Slurry can be used but can’t be grazed immediately.
We must decide if we are making silage to sell, or if we will graze all our grass this year, as we wont need any for next winter. If we are, then the fields need to be shut off.
Crop fields will be sprayed to prevent disease, but the majority of what you see is water- around 97%. Weather conditions have to be right otherwise a high-cost treatment is wasted. All in all, there will be large and relatively slow moving machinery on our narrow lanes.
Our spring fieldwork is done and now our time is spent looking after our growing lambs. These will need worming and vaccinating. Ted has to round every one up (and they tend to sleep in nooks and crannies, under hedges etc.) and, keeping a safe distance, move the whole flock down the field and into the yard, moving them into a holding pen (which is, hopefully, big enough). It’s very noisy as lambs get separated accidently from their mums and both shout to find each other. But it’s for their own good, as young lambs are prone to any parasite they pick up, unlike their mum who may have some resistance. Any lame sheep will also be treated- sometimes it might just be hard clay stuck between the cleats or it might need more medical treatment.
We have a bunch of ewes that are no longer fit for producing lambs, for various reasons and these will be separated out at an appropriate time, if they are not rearing lambs currently and helped to get fit before going to market.
The hedges will be filling up with blossom as the hawthorn follows the Blackthorn into flower, along with many species of tree, such as the Horse Chestnut and the scent will be glorious on a warm May afternoon. Our fields will see the Milkmaids blossom and many insects will be out and about, including the Orange-tip and Brimstone butterflies.
Rabbits will be seen grazing along the edges of fields, particularly in the early morning and late evening, when they are less likely to be disturbed and maybe rustling along the undergrowth, where the ground nesting birds will already have made their nests.
The highest point of the farm (80m) is to be found near a pond and from there we can look across to the surrounding area and the Derbyshire peaks. Sitting there in the sun with the birds singing is a little piece of tranquillity.