We left behind 6 months of the wettest weather ever and last week the ground was baked dry after all the amazing recent sunshine we have had. One extreme to the other!
Some of our wheat on the heavier clay drowned and died, but there isn't much we can do about that now; just nurture the surviving crops in the best way we can. Those who follow my news will know what a torrid time Richard was having with cabbage stem flea beetle attack on our oil seed rape. I can now show you the effect that a cabbage stem flea beetle infestation has on a rape crop!
Our rape field after an attack
This is a photo of our rape field this year. You can see where the flea beetle has flown over the hill from neighbouring farms and landed on the bank.
Richard estimates that we will lose 80% of this crop. We grow our rape to include in our bird seed, so it may be that we will be short this year and will have to buy some in locally to make up the shortfall.
For comparison, here's a photo of a healthy rape field near us. It belongs to one of our farming friends - but we won't hold it against him!
A lovely, healthy field of rape
If you would like to know more about the flea beetle and its impact on UK oil seed rape, you can read some of my previous news here.
On a more positive note, our spring beans are up and doing well. Richard planted them nice and deep at the end of March which stops the rooks eating them and allows them to survive a summer drought more easily.
The spring barley is struggling with the recent very dry weather; the germination has been slow due to the dry conditions, and the rooks are making the most of it! Rooks: always a farmer's challenge at this time of year.
Our canary seed was sown in early April and found the dry conditions challenging, but we had 1.5 inches of rain at the start of this week and this has helped all the crops immensely.
So firstly an apology from me. It has been quite a while since my last newsletter; all is fine here, just very very busy. Overnight we found the number of orders placed on our website had quadrupled...and it was difficult not to panic!
Farmers are key workers, and the fact that we live and work from home means that we have been able to continue to work during this crisis. In line with government rules, we suspended our 'Click and Collect' option from the farm, so apologies to our customers who usually pop in to see us - we miss you!
I have to say a massive THANK YOU to all our staff, who have been working very hard and long hours to help us continue to offer a service to our mail-order customers.
We have now recruited 5 super new members of staff to help us. We had to fast-track some major logistical changes, particularly in our packing shed to allow 2m social distancing measures, and of course we adopt rigorous hand-washing and sanitising to keep our staff safe. Making sure there is time for tea and cake always boosts energy levels and morale!
We were incredibly lucky to take ownership of a new bagging unit (to automate filling our small birdseed bags) the day before the lockdown began. This has helped us keep up with demand; whilst we are not able to offer next-day delivery at the moment (and of course, so much depends on what is happening with the couriers) we are catching up and working hard to reduce the delivery timelines. We are very grateful for your patience.
All in a day's work - bon voyage, bird seed!
Due to the large increase in demand (which we couldn't have predicted), we have unfortunately run out of our branded 4kg / 2kg bags (similar to those pictured above).
More are in production, but it is likely they are still a few weeks away, so in the meantime I am afraid we have had to source some 'emergency' temporary packaging - boring, plain white bags - but the good news is they will contain our fantastic bird seed!
Bird food news
Big Seed Gold™
The 'new kid on the block' has been very popular! One to chose if the birds in your garden don't eat small seeds. Delicious and high in energy.
Buy Big Seed Gold >
Tidy Garden Mix™
Our #1 best seller. No mess, no waste and a great choice for summer when trying to keep gardens tidy!
Buy Tidy Garden Mix >
Insect Suet Pellets
Many thanks to our suppliers; we are expecting a delivery tomorrow, so will be able to offer all sizes of insect and berry suet pellets again. Keep an eye on the website!
Buy Insect Suet Pellets >
Some ideas for the kids during lockdown
Betty's minibug butterfly bistro
See More Here >
Bobby's minibug bugbox
See More Here >
Paint your own bird feeder
See More Here >
During these tough times, we appreciate how lucky we are to have the space and freedom of the farm. Our bluebell wood was lovely this year - so thought I would share a couple of images of it.
Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and enjoy your garden birds and wildlife.
With very best wishes,