Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Meanwhile, back on the farm

In between my autumn birding trips I have actually spent a little bit of time on the farm. So here's a few of the bits and bobs which have been happening.

A New Potting Shed
We are splashing out on a new conservatory - I haven't told Sue yet that I will be using it in the spring for raising all my seedlings. The base has gone down and we are waiting for it to be finished in a couple of weeks time.
Gerry decided to enter The Hall of Fame by leaving his mark for eternity in the concrete floor. I'm surprised he didn't just write "Gerry woz 'ere"!

The builders found the old well, but unfortunately it's now under the conservatory floor! Shame.

Lady Penelope lives on
Having given up on Lady Penelope the Peahen, she has reappeared in the field margin across the road. She still has one chick which is growing fast. With the loss of Captain Peacock, this may be her one and only chance to be a parent.
On a similar vein, our guinea fowl numbers have gone down to four... or so we thought, until Sue found one sitting on eggs in exactly the same spot where Lady Penelope laid eggs last year. Why do guinea fowl wait till so late in the year to incubate? The chicks will have no chance in the long, wet autumn grass, Our plan is to catch the whole family once hatched and to confine them in a stable for their own safety.

Barn Owl and Badger road casualties
While the builders were here doing the conservatory base, someone appeared at the gate clutching onto an injured barn owl. It had been picked up by the side of the road. I tried to place it on one of the beams in the stable but it fell off and started running along the floor - nothing wrong with its legs but its wing looked pretty plowed.

I put it into a cat carrier and took it along to Baytree Owl Centre - they keep captive owls, which I don't really agree with, but they would have access to a wildlife vet and were listed on the Barn Owl Trust site.
The man there informed me that the owl was a male and that it had good levels of body fat. Surprisingly, he also said the wing had been broken for some time, but it was very badly broken. I left the owl with them, not expecting to hear any more. It had a ring on its leg but it was impossible to read the number.

On the subject of road casualties there was a young badger dead by the side of the road not 100 yards from the farm the other day. Sad that it came to such an end, but good that they are around.

A Carrot Harvest
I was determined to grow carrots this year. After successive years of poor germination and then any crop I did manage to grow being ravaged by carrot fly, this year I took the step of purchasing a vegetable net.
The carrots grew well, though I was guilty of underusing the fresh crop. However you net, it always adds a level of inconvenience to weeding and harvesting.
I had entered into my spreadsheet to harvest all maincrop carrots by early October. However, birding got in the way and I only got round to it yesterday. The good news was that the carrots had grown very well and were free of carrot fly. Bad news was that the voles had found quite a few of them and the slugs were starting to move in.
However, I still managed to salvage enough to fill quite a few bags in the freezer. Next year I'll definitely be using the netting again, but I'll have to give a little more thought to voles and slugs. I'll make sure I harvest them in good time too.
One other lesson - the final sowing was a bit late going in (by about three weeks) and has come to nothing. Next year I think I'll sow more earlier in the season, not too early though or they don't germinate, and harvest them earlier.


  1. What a great harvest of carrots. I can never grow them. They are a tangled mess or they are eaten by carrot fly! Is your soil very sandy?

  2. I wish I had sandy soil! It would make weeding and slug control so much easier. It's actually got quite a high clay content but I've worked it and improved it over the years. I just make sure that where the carrots are going is deeply dug so they don't hit compacted clay. On the plus side, I've only ever found about two stones. As for carrot fly, this is the first year I've netted the crop and it's completely eliminated the damage which used to render my carrots inedible. Definitely worth the investment.


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