As I See it on the Land – March 2022


No other word describes the mess of fallen trees caused by storm Eunice yesterday.
Even today as I write more trees are succumbing to the strong wind that has followed after the main blow, which obviously weakened them. The wind swept across the open marshland and funnelled into the field close to the farm taking down several 90ft black poplars which crashed across the ditch into the neighbours. Today three trees have lodged against one another in the garden, with a further two willows having toppled over behind the buildings. The loss of trees is making our home more exposed to the prevailing wind. The woodpeckers and little owls have lost their feeding and nesting trees.

I am not sure what we will do with all the timber that will result from this episode since we still have tonnes of wood waiting to be cut up into logs from 2019.

January was such a kind weather month that it enabled outdoor maintenance work to continue. We have tried to strengthen some of the woodland fences in an effort to deter the deer from living in the wheat later in the summer.

We replaced a rotten gate post and erected a smaller gate at Hogtub, which allowed us room to install another dog gate to help walkers who struggle with stiles. We are very concerned that people walk where ever they want irrespective of rights of way.

Under the new SFI (Sustainable Farm Incentive), of which we are one of less than a thousand farmers in the country who are currently signing up to the scheme, people will not be allowed access everywhere. The SFI is still being developed by DEFRA and they are communicating with farmers on its suitability and improvement. A lot of records are going to have to be kept with lots of rules. Whether it will work or not is yet to be decided. A business has got to be profitable to be sustainable or else it will not survive. The money offered to take part in the SFI is not enough to compensate for the loss of money taken from the old basic payment scheme, which is gradually being reduced to zero. It looks as if we will have to take close to 20 acres out of food production and plant seeds for the birds and the bees. Still trying to get clarification from DEFRA.

We have had some ewes grazing the stubbles for about a month, but they have been moved off at the moment.
Tractor work has been confined to hedge cutting which must be completed by the end of February. Fortunately, Mark finished the hedges on Ash Hill just before the B2067 road closure. The verges are taking a pounding from vehicles passing under the wet conditions. Don’t hold your breath too long if you expect the highways to rectify the damage.

Everyone is worrying about the cost of living. It comes as little surprise to anyone in business. Livestock prices are at an all time high for sheep and cattle, but in the doldrums for pig producers. All production costs (fuel, animal feed, chemicals etc.) are rocketing and many items are difficult to obtain. There is talk of empty supermarket shelves and we may have to look at what is really important in life. For example, are mobile phones, bottled water, a bottle of wine, or a can of beer, necessities, as against milk or chicken (both too cheap), bread, fresh fruit, meat and veg?

Just a short note from the Parish Council. The Queen’s Green Canopy is an opportunity to plant trees. The PC feels unable to plant more in Carters Field, due to past experience and the need to water and care for them for at least two years. However, if anyone wants to plant some on their own ground an application can be made to ABC through the PC. Planting is for next December. Anyone interested can get more information from the clerk or councillors.

The PC is still looking for volunteers to fill a vacancy.

Peter Sillibourne