Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Film about Haitian sustainable development

This may be if interest to those supporting sustainable development. Click on the title or this link for the introduction and pitch for the film.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sheep and dog

Millie bringing the sheep to me at Stoke Lacy, she is still too fast and close but is improving slowly. The main problem is with the "Lift" when she gets the sheep moving, the sheep tend to get spooked a little and start a helter skelter movement with Millie in hot pursuit.But she is slowly getting under more control. To the extent that she can keep the sheep close too while I check for fly strike or lameness, so far as you can see we have kept clear. We are using an organic fly repellent based on garlic and haven't felt the need to use harder chemicals such as "Vetracin" which is allowed under organic rules with a derogation.
Close up they are looking good, they will probably go over the winter months for mutton to a local butcher.

Shrewsbury Market

This is me standing on my stall at Shrewsbury Market. Since the decline of Farmers Markets we have concentrated on the retail market in Shrewsbury. Every Friday and Saturday will find me stood here selling our wares. The advantage over farmers markets (apart from the falling trade at farmers markets) is the option to sell bought in produce and even imported fruit and vegetables as seasons dictate. The farmers markets in our area are monthly or at best twice monthly which restricts the build up of trade by preventing a regular weekly shopping habit.
The weather has been the best for four years and for the first time in that period we have been able to sell courgettes with the flowers for frying with tempura batter or stuffing and deep frying.

One of our favourite lines salad packs picked fresh every morning, they have proved very popular with our customers at all our markets.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


So far so good with the bees, the warm summer has provided an improved spring crop on last year 300lb as opposed to 200lbs last.

The big harvest comes at the end of July and is so far looking good, things could yet change but if the weather stays fair we should considerably improve on the past three years yield.

Some hives are looking very good this is after I took 20lbs of each of these hives.

Thinking about developing the bee side of the business next year I will have to treat for Varroa (as usual) and Nosema which took about a third of my colonies this year as well as reducing the viability of a good number of others. I suspect we have had the relatively new disease Nosema cerana for a couple of years which would explain the poor spring build up as it kills adult bees so weakening the colony with no obvious symptoms in the hive.

So in addition to treating for disease I am going back to splitting hives in spring before they start thinking about swarming. I have been using checkerboard techniques to spread the brood and provide an open brood nest but in a big swarming season like this year it is rubbish at controlling swarms. So I will split as soon as I can put 3-1-1 frames in each split brood- food-pollen, then introduce queen cells into each half. If I find the queen I will make a nucleus up with a single frame of brood as back up.

Update sheep

We have had a mixed year with the sheep, only one lamb we suspect that the tup is firing blanks. But that lamb has shown us that early lambing is both possible and preferable avoiding as it does the really busy April period when the bees and vegetable are demanding attention.

The sheep are all sheared in timely fashion the local sheep by Ken while an organic farmer friend of mine did the sheep in Herefordshire.
The hay is in and stacked safely in the barn via my trusty truckMillie of course provided proper supervision, she loves being involved with everything on the farm. Special mention to both Bryony on her way to Manchester and Mark who runs Setonaikai.co.uk in Shrewsbury, who came all the way to south of the county to help load and stack the bales before the rain.