Would you like a quiet walk around the farm with us? Let’s see what wildlife we can spot…

Assumption

How cute are these baby pine cones? (I’m assuming that’s what they are – maybe you’re a flora and fauna expert and can confirm!)

New growth is simply everywhere; spring time is so full of promise, growth, a future. It’s difficult not to be affected by that positivity 🌸

Of course, crops follow a growing season too and here is your Sainsbury’s loaf of bread in its most basic form; a field of winter milling wheat…..

… being watched over by Man of the Woods’ dog, ‘Rock’. This border terrier cross Lakeland can be simultaneously cute and a real sod. He has to stay on a lead because if he smells a rabbit, rat or hare, he’s off at very high speed with no return-radar until his need to chase has been fulfilled. That’s terriers for you 🙈

I was serious about the Sainsbury’s thing. The next time you happen to buy a loaf of bread from a Sainsbury’s anywhere in the UK, chances are it may be our milling wheat which created the flour they used to make it!

Our corn (wheat, barley and oats) all go to a central UK grain store which then markets and sells on behalf of the individual farmer, allowing a much bigger client base. than if farmers tried to sell to local companies.

Winter barley is destined for malt to make beer and spring barley is destined for distilling for whiskey. Oats go for breakfast cereals (do you like Cheerios?). Now while this all sounds fabulously exciting, if the weather doesn’t play ball at the right times, a whole corn crop may not make the required quality tests and is then downgraded and subsequently sold as animal feed, resulting in a reduced income to the grower.

The weather, as we know, is never ideal for farmers but the above may help to explain why they are slightly obsessed with forecasts other than checking whether it will be fine for Uncle Joe’s 70th on Saturday! 😂

Is it me or does this fir, heavy with new flower-equivalents, remind you of a Harry Potter death-eater?

Check out these crazy external roots …. apparently we can burn the logs on our woodturner in the winter.

Man of the Woods was proudly showing me what much of his winter woodland management work had been about.  Above are a couple of photos of a hornbeam tree, a few of which he coppiced to let the light into the woodland floor.  In only a few weeks the results are already showing in that nettles, brambles, ferns, grasses and wildflowers are now flourishing and providing homes and food for insects which in turn provides a food chain for songbirds.

I have to admit I’d not heard of hornbeam before – apparently it’s the hardest wood in Europe, harder than oak, and was used for ship building back in the day. (I had to check his facts and turns out he was right!)

Have you ever heard a nightingale?  Some people haven’t as they are rare these days, with much habitat disappearing.   However, we have 9 males singing their hearts out daily now awaiting the arrival of they females from Africa who apparently follow on behind.   Nightingales are very territorial and actually return to the same tree, bush, shrub in the same lane of the same farm year after year.   (How cool is that?)

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He also plants patches of bee-friendly flowering plants .. namely the yellow mustard and these mauve phacelia both of which have been smothered in bumble bees for weeks now and the flowers shall continue through til June.   Again, farmers have received bad press in recent years for using products which discourage or kill bees and there is an assumption that all farmers are the same, but some of them do many things to ‘give back’ as well as take from the landscape.

Man of the Woods said something once which I’ve not forgotten (in fact, when he said it, I even forgave him his muddy boots up on the corner of the kitchen table) and that was that he sees being a farmer as being ‘a custodian of the land for the next generation’.