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Emma's Christmas Farm Update

eMMA FOOTS  farm blogg looks forward to Christmas

Hello, I hope everyone is well.  Things have been a bit quiet on the farm, which I find is nice before Christmas to relax a bit more and spend time with family and friends.

Darren has been on hedge laying, my gran taught him how to hedge lay, so he is a bit of a perfectionist.  This is being funded by the mid tier stewardship which I applied for last year. The aim is to lay a big hedge that has become thin at the bottom to make thicker, this will be better for the overall health of the hedge and creates a great habitat for wildlife living around the fields, and to help the countryside look the beautiful way it does.

At the beginning of November I went to an Agrii meeting where a few speakers discussed cover crops, as they are a relatively new concept that is being used in this country so a lot of trials are still being done to find what gives the best results. 

The winter wheat has been attacked slightly by wireworm. Unfortunately nothing can be done to stop them destroying the crop, flat rolling in the spring can only reduce wireworms and next year we will have to do an extra cultivation to stop them attacking the following crop as they feed off the roots thus killing the plant. There are lots of slugs in the later drilled wheat; some of our ground is quite flinty so the slugs seem to thrive underneath them. After oilseed rape slugs are a bigger problem to the following crop. The remaining crop residue provides the perfect habitat for slugs, providing shade, preserving moisture and providing food. Below is the slug pelletor on the back of the quad. I have to wrap up as does get rather cold on there!

slug pellator on the back of a quad bike

A few weeks ago we bought 12 Charolais steers aged around 6 months. The prices are down on cattle so we got them for a bit less this year. Prices are down as of feed supplies being short after this hot and dry summer; this also means food is worth a lot.

We have also been TB testing – we thankfully passed. We had an early TB test as a holding next to ours had been shut down with TB so every holding next to the reactor then needs a test. Normally we are on 6 monthly testing which works quite well as normally falls before we send the cattle to market, as they need to pass before we send them on, but now its out of sync.

Last weekend we were invited to a rough shoot at Jacks auntie and uncles farm near by, it was a very nice varied day, we started driving ducks and pheasants in the meadows and Bill and I were beating, Bill even swam across the river, I know he’s not the typical dog breed to take beating but he just loves to be outside, one of the star dogs was actually a collie – trained as a sheep dog. We then beat some double hedges and turnips, Bill found the turnips quite a challenge, so I did have to carry him half way through the turnips, although it was his first time! We also got soaked right through even went through our waterproofs, but that was ok as we went in by the Aga to dry off and had a lovely evening meal followed by port and homemade sloe gin.

Emma looking at winter crop

The grant which I applied for a few months ago has been accepted as I got through to the second round so I’m very happy about that!  A percentage of Money which would originally given to farmers direct through the basic payment scheme has now been put aside to provide funding for different projects. This project which I applied for is a example of the different ways of where the money has been made of use. So this grant has enabled us to purchase a new sprayer with extras on it, which over the years will help to reduce the amount of money we spend as the machine uses GPS to switch itself on and off so that it doesn’t overlap any chemical, which is also of a great environmental benefit. Also the technology will help to improve our efficiency on the farm. The grant was covered by a percentage of the machine.

Fertiliser prices have now gone up, luckily we got some at £218 a tonne when the fertiliser prices were just released in July. Its now up around £300 a tonne, I find they normally go up when the corn prices do. Although they don’t come down as soon as the corn prices do.  

Some of our spring barley went on a boat from Southampton docks, which was sold for £180 a tonne. Due to the growing conditions this year a lot of spring barley seems to be high in N (Nitrogen) this is because it was put in late and we didn’t have the rain when it was required for the roots to take up the nitrogen, the dry spell meant the nitrogen went to the grain producing a high nitrogen content. Although £18 a tonne was deducted as the nitrogen was high and so was the screenings.

Jack and I were very honoured to be best man and bridesmaid at the beginning of November for our very good friends and Jacks cousin. We’ve got another wedding to attend at the weekend, in total we’ve been to 7 weddings this year! Below is a picture of Jack and I when I was bridesmaid and Jack was best man.

 emma the bridesmaid

Jack and I have been away for a few nights to Malta just to get away and switch off for a bit as it’s a lot quieter on the farm for both of us.

I have been taking Bill to dog training classes as he seems to have very selective hearing – I’m hoping it’s a phase! The picture of him below shows butter wouldn’t melt or would it?

 puppy - would butter melt in his mouth

Thank you again for reading my blog. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.


Emma x



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