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Autumn Farm News

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I often start my Farm Reports with some observations on the weather but you don’t need me to tell you what an exceptional summer it has been! It was the driest summer I can ever remember, on the bright side it meant we could make some lovely hay in June but on the down side by August we were feeding it to the cows as the grass had stopped growing! We got off fairly lightly by comparison as some farmers are desperately short of winter feed having fed a lot of their winter provisions and will have to buy-in hay and prices are rocketing up! The price of straw that we use to bed the animals over winter has also shot up, we are paying twice as much for straw this year than last year due to reduced cereal yields in the area.

The cows did well considering the weather, but we still have to manage the grazing very carefully as there is still less grass than usual. It is vital we keep the cows out grazing for as long as possible to ensure we have enough feed for the winter. We bought two calves from Stroud Micro Dairy, the idea is to raise them up for meat and see if this collaboration is something that could work long term. As a dairy they always produce calves but with limited land they are unable to keep them on themselves.

The sheep are also well, however the lambs are several weeks behind in their growth than normal. The first batch have only now gone to the butchers. With me going away I have tried to simplify the role of looking after the livestock. I decided not to keep any pigs over the winter as we feed our pigs twice a day
and this is quite a lot of labour to cover every day of the year including holidays. We shall, however, still have pork available until the New Year. When I get
back we will start with pigs again.

This will be my last farm report for a while, I intend to send a report from America on how we are getting on over there but for the mean time it is goodbye and see you in the spring!

Farmer Sam Hardiman

Autumn news from the Veggie Fields

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I signed off my veg report in June with the hope that the hot dry spell of weather we were experiencing at that time would be broken before that article had been printed. My hopes weren’t met, and the drought and heat continued throughout June and July. We all experienced a huge sigh of relief when it rained on
the 30th of July. This really saved the day as many of our crops were really struggling with the drought. We have very limited capacity to irrigate, and watering just about keeps the plants growing but not really thriving. Since then we have just about had enough rain and most crops have recovered and grown well. Many of the crops we grow don’t really like hot weather, and we did experience some significant losses; all of the carrots due to be harvested throughout September were lost to marauding rabbits and drought, a quarter of the leeks failed to get established, all of the cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli harvested in July were well undersized, and half of the parsnips and later sown carrots didn’t germinate.

The sun and heat loving summer vegetables, where we have been able to keep them watered, have done very well. We have had very good crops of tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, cucumbers (the best crop ever) and beans. We grow a range of crops, in different locations, and this helps to spread and reduce the risk
of failures. We are buying in extra veg at the moment, and will have to continue to do so over the year, but the veg share shouldn’t be affected too much in the
coming months.

We have continued to sow seeds throughout the summer, and we will soon be planting up the polytunnels with winter salad and spinach.

Farmer Mark Harrison