Thursday, 23 April 2009

Recent visitors from Germany

We have just said good bye to Deborah who has been working for her keep over the past 2 weeks. She also got to use our little tractor, sow seeds, work with sheep and bees also to go horse riding with a friend of ours in the village and last but not least to dig lots of docks.
It broadens our outlook to have visitors to work with us and hopefully they gain from the experience.
We also had Josh here just for the day two weeks ago while visiting family in Hereford, he stayed for six months working on the farm and learning the language, so he went back with a mixture of Lancastrian, Shropshire and London accents. It was good to see him and his mum Ulrike again after 4 years.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

New batch of layers, Day Old

We have just taken delivery of our first batch o day old chicks, these are Black Rocks which we hope will be in lay before november 09 . That means they will lay through the winter , another 4 weeks later and we risk not getting any eggs until after the nights draw out after December 21st.We put 25 chicks under each broody, they seem to be able to cope fine and produce healthy laying hens.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

First cultivation of ground outside.

The new planting season is upon us and we are about to start planting the outdoor crops. The green manure has been developing over the winter, seen here are the roots of the main three species sown. On the left is colts foot grass used for its root mass and ability to take up and hold onto nitrogen. In the centre are two plants of chicory with deep fleshy roots drawing nutrients from the lower levels of the soil and adding root mass then on the right is white cloevr used to fix nitrogen and add green mass to the soil.

First we graze the green manure with our Lleyn sheep, seen here the short plant tops and evidence of where the sheep have been. This leaves the sward in a good condition to be incorporated.
First we use the deep tines to break up the surface and aerate the soil and sub soil.

The chickens help themselves to any displaced soil fauna.

Then we use the tractor mounted rotovator to incorporate the green manure into the top 3" to 4" and break up the root growth to stop competition with crop plants. We will change the green manure mix this year as the chicory caused problems with re-growth pushing up the weed mulch.

The green manure rotovated, still showing green but this is a result of shallow cultivation which we do to retain the soil structure as much as possible. The mulch when laid will prevent too much re-growth.

Her name is Millie

Now at 10 weeks and growing well has had her first injections second and final inoculations next week. She can then mix with other dogs.

Monday, 6 April 2009

New dog arrived

I picked up our new dog yesterday, a bitch working collie , she is 9 weeks old and has behaved impeccably. Hardly made a murmur when left in her kennel overnight.She is destined to be a sheep dog, we were hoping to buy an older dog so being able to start working quicker,however this didn't prove possible so we will be put back on training. Will have to manage our sheep manually this year.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Comparison of containers for Runner Beans

We are growing early runner beans in the tunnel this year as a trial, we used two sizes of module one was the root trainer normally used for shrub transplants the other is a standard module tray.

Both batches were sown at the same time under lights, the growth seems even between the the two types. The root growth though is radically different, the root trainers have produced much more root growth presumably because of the extra space.
The module root ball is much smaller but so far is supporting a similar top growth. they willbe planted this week and we will see which produces a bigger crop.