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july news from the farm

Once again, it is the weather which is our major tormentor. Last year it was drought - this year rain.

You may have seen on BBC Countryfile last night that the South East of England has experienced 3 x the normal amount of rainfall for this time of year, causing extensive crop damage, whilst the rest of the country is experiencing below average rainfall. In one 24 hour period we had 2.5 inches of rain- which is 3/4 of a total months' rainfall for this time of year!

The upside of the rain is that the crops are looking very lush. Our bird seed crops, including red and white millet, plain canary seed and naked oats are all looking tremendous and we are hoping they are going to yield well. They need to since they are in high demand and we have to make sure we have enough seed for all our products. As our customers appreciate - home grown is best - and matching what we grow with what we sell can be a challenge- especially with the extremes of weather we are now experiencing.

canary seed

Canary Seed Crop Under Rainy Skies                                        Naked Oats Crop Under Rainy Skies

Our main crop is still wheat, and 50% of our wheat is milling wheat. However it is a sad fact that Southern England doesn't now have any flour mills left. They have all closed due to lack of investment, and our wheat will now have to travel to flour mills in the Midlands, which of course increases travel costs . Growing milling wheat is becoming more of a challenge as well. Milling wheats usually yield less than non-milling varieties and nowadays the mills require 13% protein in the wheat (which used to be 11%) and these higher protein levels are also more difficult to achieve. So perhaps our days of growing milling wheat may be coming to an end, which is sad, but the upside is more acreage for bird seed crops!

wheat under rainy skies

Nice Crop of Wheat Under Rainy Skies

We will shortly be dessicating our winter linseed so that means harvest will be 3.5 weeks away.This year Richard is looking forward to cutting the crops so see how they perform; this is in variance to the past couple of years where he just wanted them gone so he didn't have to look at crops which had suffered as a result of the prolonged heatwave.

field of blue flowering linseed

Field of Blue Flowering Winter Linseed                                       Yellowed and Flat Linseed After the Rain

Our linseed is looking quite sad for itself since the multiple lots of heavy rain have caused it to 'lodge' ( fall flat ) - which is going to make combining it quite a challenge - however at its peak it was truly beautiful. You may not know this, but linseed flowers only last a day. The plant flowers in the morning and by the evening the flowers have fallen off; which you can see in the photo below.This means you always get the most vivid blue earlier in the day.

naked oats

Our naked oats ( oats without the husks) which garden birds adore are also looking really well. They are not an easy plant to establish. We sowed them in October when it was very wet and at the time they didn't look well, but since the Spring they have tillered well and the crop looks superb." Tillering" refers to the production of side shoots by a plant which enables them to produce multiple stems (tillers) starting from the initial single seedling. This ensures the formation of dense tufts and multiple seed heads- which means lots of naked oats for your garden birds.

graham wheat

Variety of Wheat Called Graham!

We are interested in disease resistant properties

At this time of year the grain merchants set up exhibition 'trial plots' for farmers to compare different varieties of crops. Richard attended the Bartholomews day recently, particularly interested in new varieties of wheat which are disease resistant . There is a big focus to develop varieties of disease free wheat which means we can dramatically reduce the application of fungicides to the crops; reducing costs and also helping the environment and wildlife on the farm.

Bird Feeder Hygiene

Whilst on the subject of diease (with my vet hat on), I would just like to remind everyone how important feeder hygiene is and especially this year when conditions are so wet and warm.

The Trichomonas organism (which is responsible for the fluffed up, poorly garden birds that sit immobile and look wet around their chins ) likes moist environments ( and is killed by dessication ) so with weather conditions as they are, garden birds will be exposed to more disease-causing organisms. And of course, there are FAR more birds in the garden at the moment, (with all the youngsters visiting feeders as well as adults ) - so a real potential for disease spread.

So please make sure you keep feeders and feeding areas clean, disinfect regularly, scrub bird baths, scrape tables and where possible, use easy-clean feeders which can be dismantled in a click and therefore are much more likely to be cleaned regularly. I recommend using Ark-Klens™disinfectant cleaner for feeders. We have a duty of care to our garden birds and preventing disease should always be top priority. More information can be found here on the website.

bird hygiene products

Shop Hygiene Products >

Easy-Clean Bird Feeders

ring pull click metal feeders

New Ring Pull Click Metal Feeders

Trade up old feeders to 'easy clean' options and you won't be disappointed! So much easier and quicker - which means cleaning gets done more regularly.

Every part of these feeders detaches within seconds for easy dismantling and cleaning. The base 'click's off with a single twist and the metal ports 'click' off for easy cleaning.

These new feeders come with a lifetime guarantee, with replaceable parts should they be required. We have lots of Easy-Clean feeder options for sale.

Easy-Clean Bird Feeders >          New Ring Pull Metal Feeder >

Last Chance To...

flutter butter pods

Get 2 free Flutter Butter Pods when you buy a Flutter Butter EcoRefill pack - offer ends 7th July.

With 85% less plastic these Flutter Butter eco-refills are very popular; more so because we are giving away 2 free Pods to house them! - Offer ends 7th July.

Buy Them Here > 

Enjoy Your Birds!

With Best Wishes