February 2020

Rain, rain, more rain and gales...

The weather continues to be even more challenging with gales and relentless rain. When it rains the results are that it is more difficult to get onto the fields with machinery without doing damage or more to the point getting stuck!
One project I have managed to at least start, is to replace an important fence that borders the farm drive. The advantage is that I can do most of the work using the hard surface of the drive so no mess in the fields. It has to be done before spring as the fence line was very weak.

Old fenceline with undergrowth.

There was also the situation that undergrowth has started to grow up in the fenceline which makes it impossible to tighten the wire so the only option is to start again.

Old fenceline removed.

With all of the torrential rain we have experienced the streams on the farm become torrents but on the whole we are lucky as we are on the side of a hill that we are relatively unaffected by the rain.

A flooded boardwalk on nature trail.

But when we get gales we do feel quite exposed and vulnerable. We have experienced 2 fierce gales this month and the situation is made worse when the ground is saturated and there is less soil structure to keep the trees standing. We have lost two old apple trees as a result of the waterlogged soil which is always a shame.
Another sad loss was one of our ancient Oak trees on the farm was split apart. This tree was probably 250 years old and now it has unfortunately nature has claimed it...

Oak Tree
We do now have quite a large quantity of exceptional Oak firewood which is usually welcome but it is still a shame when one of our historic trees is lost.

Another tree that is more of a nusience is when a Willow tree splits and breaks. Willow wood is unfortunately utterly useless for firewood. So it means time spent dealing with it only to to pile it up and burn it in the field. Funnily enough not only has this happened but it has gone over the remains of our old JCB and over an access yard. So all of this has been added on my list of things to do!

Fallen Willow Tree

January 2020

The first project in January is always spending time on accounting for the tax deadline and then  during the really grim weather I have hunkered down in my office and mancave to try and cross a few other projects of the list. After tax I then moved onto a complete rebuild of the partyinabarn website. Website building takes quite a bit of time but the main reason was to make the site mobile and device friendly. Yes I can put together websites! Well kind of... I do have a good friend Bob who is my technical goto man who without I simply would not to be able to do very much at all. I do the 'building part' and Bob very kindly makes it presentable and deals with the technical side. So quite a bit of time was spent on this but it is very pleasing when it was completed (for now..)
Project 3 again sucked up a lot of time in the man cave however but to what it involved is remaining secret!
Mid to late January is when I have to start to consider the woodland management on the farm which is mainly coppicing and clearing any trees that have fallen over or broken branches in order to replenish our firewood situation. This wintertime normal winter jobs which include fencing and woodland management  has certainly been more difficult to do as the ground is so wet.

Another project that had to be done was to remove the fencing from the pipeline (see summer 2019 below) in time for spring.
After a few days it was not actually raining some of the ground on the farm drains quite well and I seized the moment in trying to recover the fencing and to lift the posts out in order to reuse them. The fencing had been done using a contractor that had used a tracked fencing machine that put in the posts so they were pretty firm! We only have an elderly tractor with a front end loader to pull them up.
Collecting the old fencing from pipeline.

I have always been a bit nervous if the tractor front end loader would have been able to pull the big corner posts out and I wanted to turn the fact that the soil was saturated to my advantage. And it worked! The value of this fencing to us is considerable and I managed to remove about 2/3rds of the total amount. The rest will have to remain until early spring depending on the weather and of course if the soil starts to dry out.

 December 2019

A busy month for shows for the cider and we were quite pleased on the whole how they went.
We did 2 shows at Weston Park as well as 1 at Much Wenlock. Our special Mulled Cider did well as always and we depend on these Christmas shows to carry us over to spring in the new year when sales pick up again.

 November 2019

Cidermaking went pretty well this year but we decided not to make quite as much as we have done before. We have an amount of cider maturing from last year and we are limited on how much we are able to sell. This is due to various reasons but the main ones are that we are limited on how much we can do regarding lack of  man power and time. Running a small farm, environmental projects, running the shop and cider business, organising barn events and last but not least having a small family there is only so much I can do!

October 2019

The main push was to collect all the wood that I had harvested at the start of the year. Collecting the wood piles were only done in the nick of time as the weather started to get wet early on this year. Usually October can be beautiful weather but not thos year... Little did I know that the weather was only to get worse as time went on!

Bringing back coppiced wood.
September 2019

Ludlow festival in September is the biggest show we do every year and we really enjoy it as a show.
Lots of ciders were on offer as always and we had a terrific time! The weather was great which always helps.

Our stand at Ludlow Food Festival.

Beautiful weather at Ludlow Festival!

 Summer 2019

One major project that was going on during the spring/summer was the installation of a mains pipeline which cut right across the farm. This involved fencing off the site and then digging a trench, installing the big pipe and then reinstatement. This was fascinating to watch particularly when the contarctors had to drill underneath the 2 valleys on the farm.

Overhead view of pipeline route

Installing the pipe.

Drilling machine.

The whole project went fairly well with only a few things that went wrong however the main advantage was that after the project had been completed we then could keep all the associated fencing and gates!


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