Mid Summer 2013

And what a summer we have had so far! After what seems like an eternity of cloud, the sun came out and has stayed out! I know the heat can be hard work but on the whole I am loving it. I have not even been burnt - yet....

Hay has been made on one field quite early this year. I felt I had to seize the opportunity with the glorious spell of good weather considering the nightmare the weather was last year. Despite all the vintage machinery that I use continually playing up during the whole process, I managed to make a very quick 280 bales all my own and get it in. And yes it was made super quick due to the extraordinary heat that lasted well into the evening.I am leaving our wildlife meadow for late cut of hay to allow nature such as butterflies and moths to enjoy it. I watched a lovely springwatch program the other night which highlighted the loss of meadows and how much diversity can be extinguished so quickly which can have a big knock on effect. Makes us proud that we have several lovely species rich meadows on the farm which have not been ploughed in living memory. Now here is a bit of info - we have had a group on the farm looking for insects and moths in old orchards and they came across one species that (it is thought) has never been recorded in Shropshire before! I love it!

Closely linked to meadows and all that, we are still hoping to be accepted for the HLS countryside scheme (fingers crossed). It would allow further exciting environmental work to be done on the farm which I would love to do but simply cannot find the time. One example is that we have an old coppice wood tucked into an awkward corner which would be so good to start the coppicing again on a rotational basis. Excellent sustainable source of wood PLUS different insects like different stages of rotational growth on trees. The scheme would enable me to part finance a contractor to do some of the work much more efficiently than me.

The sales of cider have been very pleasing so far this year and the hot weather has done us no harm! We have only done a few shows this year and the lions share is yet to come. In the next week we have 3 seperate shows which I am lookng forw So far so good though. Only just keeping up with the flavoured ciders. I was hoping to offer a mail order selection pack at some point to trial it but we have so much on at the moment it would be a bit much for us. Really hoping the damsons will be fruitful this year but we will have to wait and see...

Over 18 months ago now we lost half an ancient oak tree on the farm which had split in the wind. Half of it is still ok but I dont think it will last for too long.We had someone come up to process the wood mainly into firewood but I have salvaged a couple of largish beams. We have now over 12 tons of firewood all ready seasoned, chopped and split ready for winter. Need to mix some other wood types into it as well but it is a lovely feeling to be semi prepared for the winter.

I have plans to put on an event on Halloween in the barn. I have spoken to my Falconry friends and they are excited about it too. I think it has some real potential. Set up some trees in the barn, spooky music, smoke machine, coloured lights, projector, cobwebs, pumpkins, candles and owls flying over your heads! Watch this space!

This year is going fast for me, even quicker than normal... Being a dad is great fun to my 4 month  little boy. Priorities have changed somewhat but I am feeling positive about trying to keep on top of things. I am having a great time!


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