As I See it on the Land – May 2021

It’s the weather again that is controlling activity. The cold north easterly winds have been blowing for weeks, allowing the land to dry and enabling those farmers with spring crops to plant, to get busy. However, because the nights are so frosty, we are delaying the drilling of our linseed because it will not tolerate the cold. We must wait until nature warms the air and soil before we proceed.

Fertilising and spraying has continued when the wind has eased. The wheats are looking good and the oilseed rape is just coming out into flower. A bit of extra warmth would encourage insects out to pollinate the crop.
The livestock market is experiencing unprecedented prices for both cattle and sheep. The auctioneers are struggling to find words to describe the situation! No farmer can witness this happening, but they can receive an inflated cheque a week later.

I have not heard how lambing is going, but daily bitter cold nights must create challenges for those birthing outdoors.

With the relaxation of covid rules we have been able to open the caravan site and the holiday let, so I will have plenty to keep me occupied.

I saw a solitary swallow on the 10th April, skimming over the ditch. The next day I read in the paper how some birds had arrived early and were struggling to get enough food. Waterways were their best chance of surviving this early. We have a lonely swan which remains close to the farm buildings on the sewer. I think it must have hit the electricity wires and come down in the water. There is no obvious visible damage on it but it makes no effort to get away from habitation.

A fortnight ago two of our dogs sat transfixed looking at a pile of pipes hidden in the ivy and bushes in the farmyard. They did not want to leave the spot. However, they had to come on Marys daily walk down the drive. On returning to the farmyard, they immediately went back to the same spot. Intrigued, I went into the undergrowth and found the end of a twelve-foot length of plastic drainage pipe. I picked the end up to look in it and got sworn at by a mink. I quickly dropped the pipe, got some buckets which I put over the ends to prevent the mink escaping. Later in the day when I could get help, we got the pipe out of the undergrowth and fixed a cage over one end so that I could get the mink out to enable me to shoot it. A lot of wild life should benefit from its demise.

Yesterday I watched a buzzard being mobbed by a single carrion crow as it tried to keep the predator away from its nesting site.

Peter Sillibourne