8th April 2020

Farm Diary

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I said a big dry spell would come – well it took longer to arrive than we all hoped but it is dry now with plenty of sunshine – wonderful.

The last 14 days have been very busy planting the fields that should have been planted last autumn and also those originally destined for spring cropping. Everything has gone really well with excellent seedbeds and few mechanical problems. Huge thanks to Rob who has worked many hours – something over 90 hours a week. The cereals are now planted with the 80 acres of spring beans to plant next week.

Whilst many of you are restricted in what you can do I have been self-isolating on the tractors which provides a wonderful view of the wildlife and birds. Because of the numbers of people walking on footpaths which is much higher than usual it does provide an insight into human behaviour. Firstly the wildlife – the birds especially love the soil being disturbed by the machinery because it unearths (apologies) the worms which are a very tasty meal – fresh and easily picked. The birds ignore the person sat in the tractor cab and come very close to the operation trying to get the freshest worms. In one field I had 4 Buzzards competing with each other for the biggest worms and they come within a metre or so of the tractor – they really are spectacular when you see them that close. There have been some Red Kites around – less than last summer but no doubt they will reappear later in the year. The strange thing about Buzzards is that despite their size they are bullied by crows who attack them in groups – nature in action but no real damage done.

It is great to see locals exercising on the footpaths and bridleways – please remember to stay on the rights of way and don’t let dogs disturb ground nesting birds who will be nest building or even have eggs or chicks. It is a dog’s natural instinct to hunt out the birds which is why we have wildlife areas where we don’t want walkers and dogs – let nature have some space of its own. Trees have had a hard time lately and we are finding that they are still falling over despite the foliage not yet adding to their weight. Rob marked out the edge of one field by Colliers Wood and by the time he had gone around the field again a huge beech tree had fallen where he had travelled just a few minutes earlier – a lucky escape by minutes.

The public can be amusing when walking and here are some examples seen in the last few days. One evening I arrived in a field to sow spring barley and whilst starting to plant the headland noticed two young ladies in the next door field who were sat (away from the footpath) enjoying the evening sun – the peace was shattered by the farmer sowing the crop in the next field. They appeared to be chatting and exercising – maybe even doing yoga moves – which was all pretty harmless. My conundrum was whether or not to point out to them that where they were sitting had only 2 days before been covered with FYM commonly known as muck – not my chosen carpet!

When planting a field at Medstead with a footpath running along one side there were occasional walkers. One guy came towards me when I was planting about 12 metres from the footpath – there was dust but blowing away from the footpath and I was travelling at about 15 kph. He turned and started walking away then running in the direction where he had come from. I watched with slight amusement then amazement as he then took a flying leap through the hedge into the next door field and kept running until he was about 30 metres away. Why?

Walkers can hear such wonderful birdsong at this time of year – there is a constant buzz of tunes, song and noise from the natural world. What I really fail to understand is why so many solo walkers of all ages have earphones that effectively block out the aural performance that surrounds them and can be so uplifting. One girl with fitted earplugs had a dog on a lead and was walking down Tinkers Lane. I caught her up on the tractor – 270 horse power is noisy plus the kit behind which does rattle and squeak a lot. As I got closer the dog became nervous of this monster machine approaching but the girl was oblivious to it all. Finally when about 10 metres behind her she turned and saw the tractor, smiled sweetly and let me pass which was fine but such a shame that she was missing out on her surroundings.

The proposed farm tractor tour for villagers in May as previously advertised has been postponed for obvious reasons.

To conclude – please keep safe and for the farmers and gardeners an inch of rain would now be most welcome.

PS From Jenny

Whilst Julian is slaving away in the farm yard I have just read an article in the Farmers Weekly by a farmer from America. Apparently when there was shortage of milk at the local supermarket recently some of the citizens decided to stock up with butter. Their plan was to mix it with water and whisk to return it to milk, problem solved! Strangely it did not work and they now have a lot of butter.

Julian Lewis

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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