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Latest from blog

16 Mar 2021

The other evening while walking the dog and shutting the gat...



 

16 Mar 2021

 

The other evening while walking the dog and shutting the gates around Rushall I came across a toad sat in the middle of the track, not even startled by my torch.  To me it seemed he had woken up and thought it had been quite a sunny day, and well, it must be spring and time to mate. But then had second thoughts.  Or was it that any potential mates were still sensibly cocooned in a nest of warm leaves under a rotting log? I quietly moved him to safety.  The farm, though, has had to wake up. 250 ewes lambed during February and are now grazing turnips and winter rye with another group behind Waylands.  Farmer Steve has dad Peter ploughing ready for planting spring wheat and barley.  The second group of ewes to lamb have been housed and start lambing just after Easter.  Lambs from this group will be selected and retained for breeding, while the others are off to Sainsbury’s organics via South Wales.  Most of the thirty suckler cows, which were all in calf, have calved successfully. It was black twins yesterday, always a delight. But stocks of silage, hay and straw for the sheep and cattle are tight. Like most farms, last year’s drought has made supplies of winter forage very short, putting further strain on the narrow margins which always challenge farmers.

We are all hoping for a better year, with volunteer groups back in action at the Manor and in the woodlands. School groups again we hope, camps perhaps, and even some family parties and much delayed wedding receptions.  What is never delayed or deferred is that amazing push of spring; sap rising in trees forcing a canopy of blossom and green leaves.  Then there is the unfailing growth sight and smell of bluebells, the unfurling of ferns and succession of wood anemones, celandines, yellow archangel, wood spurge and foxgloves, each in their turn queuing for a splendid and quite often hidden display. These are just some of the plants which create a myriad of environments for ants and beetles, woodlice, bees and wasps, moths, butterflies and many tiny beasties.  Now small mammals, reptiles and birds thrive while deer graze, foxes and badgers patrol and kites and buzzards survey the scene from on high. And us? Well, come and see, breathe in and engage in a world with seasons beyond our control and definitely there to refresh and do us good.

John Bishop