As I See it on the Land – December 2021

We have just enjoyed three weeks of dry, calm weather in November, almost unheard of. It has encouraged some belated growth in the green cover crops, but not enough to provide much sheep feed in the new year. I am afraid our oilseed rape crop has failed and we will be looking to find an alternative crop to plant in the spring. The winter wheat crops have had to have yet more slug pellets applied but are now growing away from the pest. Only one field has plants looking very sparce in places so we hope it will tiller well in the spring and compensate. Nitrogen will be needed to encourage growth, and currently the price of nitrogen across the world is so expensive that farmers are holding back from purchasing the product. This is causing concern as to how it may affect the yields come next harvest. The supply of wheat worldwide is already on a knife edge and nobody seems to know whether there is sufficient in store, or not, to feed the continuously expanding world population. Prices keep rising. I notice dear old Tesco’s have put the price of my favourite roll up by 50% this week. A sign of the times.

Mark has been busy drilling for other people, as well as hedge cutting when time allows him to do so. Now hedge cutting may look easy, but it is a highly skilled job. It gives you neck ache constantly watching the flail working on your left.

The quieter weather conditions enabled me to pollard some of the black poplars on our caravan site. Some of our customers will not approve because they like the shade, but having seen what the wind is capable of doing we decided to lower the height of some in the interest of health and safety. Last month I commented on the size of my chainsaw and a neighbour offered me to use their larger one. I was not man enough to handle it! I also lowered the height of two large ash trees in my garden to allow more sunshine to reach the solar panels on the bungalow. My neighbour kindly used this larger model to cut through the trunk for me.

Leaves have been falling for weeks now. The gutters need cleaning for a third time. Some trees are naked already, whilst the hazel and sycamores are hanging on to their leaves, but no doubt a wind or drastic change in temperature will change all that. Wonderful conditions for preparing the garden for next year.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has experienced an invasion of spring tails in their house. Google says there are thousands per square metre outside. We do not know how they get access to the building.

They just appear and then die in their hundreds on a daily basis, under the sofa or in a corner. A complete mystery. First sighting was in October and we are hoping a change in temperature may deter them. They are very small, about 1/16th inch. Harmless. Jump when touched. Very hard shells.

My hens have gone into a winter moult and are refusing to lay many eggs. They don’t enjoy darkness. I get annoyed when I see paper articles advising people to save battery hens at the end of their productive life when they would normally go for slaughter as dog food or whatever. I am currently paying £12.30 for a 25kg bag of layers pellets. That equates to 75 eggs at £2 dozen. You don’t have to be a genius to work out the economics.

I have an abundance of mistletoe which I try to sell in aid of cancer research. I hope to have some available in Hamstreet near the Rectory. Do not keep it indoors until near Christmas. Store outdoors moist. The weekend before Christmas would be the perfect time if you wanted to pick your own. HS 732615

Parish Council. A surprise e-mail, just a few days before our November meeting, informed us that the Chairman was resigning immediately and as from the end of the meeting he would give up both the Chairmanship and also as a Parish Councillor. Jeremy had held the position during the difficult covid period of restrictions, without an experienced clerk to guide and help him. I know from experience it can be a thankless job and there is always some member of the public not happy, which makes the task harder. Thank you, Jeremy, for giving it a go.

Replacement. Terri Cliffe-Harrison felt unable to fill the position due to her work commitments and remains as Vice Chairman. Steve Hewison, the newest member of the PC, has taken on the challenge of the job. His life experience and enthusiasm, together with his knowledge of Information Technology, will move the PC forward into the 2020’s. Just feel sorry for us oldies trying to keep up!!

The neighbourhood watch man, Peter New, attended the meeting and urged us to try to get the message out to people, of not leaving goods in vehicles and security around our homes. Unfortunately, a car was broken into at the top of Ash Hill and credit cards were stolen. They were used within just a few minutes in local shops.

Serious night time thieves have been busy at local farms.

Christmas greetings to my readers.

Peter Sillibourne