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Harvest time is nearly upon us! For me, it is the most exciting and enjoyable time of the farming year; the culmination of a year's work for Richard. It can also be an anxious time; will it all go well? Will the weather stay dry and warm? Despite thorough servicing and a lot of pre-harvest preparation, a combine seems to be an unknown entity until it starts working! We had some mechanical trouble last year (and the year before!) so we are really hoping this year will run smoothly, and if we have some long, dry summer days with evenings like these (photos were taken last year), that will be much appreciated too.

Summer evenings

Cleaning jobs have been completed; the grain store, combine and grain trailers are all ready for action, and we have had a chance to do some painting and general maintenance around the farm.

The first crop off will be our oil seed rape. You may remember my previous newsletter where I showed you the impact of a flea beetle infestation. Whilst the undamaged rape has made a good recovery, the field flowered unevenly and produced a very uneven crop. Richard has been out applying a PVA-type of glue to stick the pods of the crop which are ready, to allow the later bits of rape to catch up. Sticking the pods stops them opening and prevents the oil seeds shattering. Who would have thought it - PVA glue?!

Plain canary seed

Plain canary seed looking well

 Red millet

Red millet coming into ear

Wheat field

Wheat nearly ready to harvest

Wheat will be second to be harvested. Some of our wheat looks tremendous, while some of it has struggled with the excessively wet winter and very dry spring and summer; however, we are really pleased with our canary seed, which has loved the dry weather, and we are especially pleased with our red and white millets, which are also really loving the heat. As the photo above shows, our red millet is just coming into ear.

The demand for our home-grown straight seeds and seed mixes increased massively during lockdown and we are really hoping we have grown enough hectares to meet this increased demand for the year ahead. It can be a tricky process since there are a lot of factors that can affect crop growing - as I am sure you appreciate. Our plan for the year ahead therefore is to significantly increase the acreage of canary seed, red millet, white millet and naked oats - we don't want your little birds to miss out on our seed.

In my May newsletter, I included a photo of a skylark nest; photography isn't my strong point, but one of our lovely customers enhanced the shadows and over-exposed the photo and you can clearly see the 4 skylark eggs. Thank you very much Mr Taylor!

Skylark eggs in nest

Well, that's all from me for now. I am off to start to cook some harvest teas for the freezer. Keeping the troops fed and watered during harvest is a full-time job!

In the meantime, happy holidays and enjoy your birds.

With best wishes,