14th December 2019

Farm Diary

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…including how Boyd stopped 24 unwanted pregnancies!

The more perceptive of you will have noticed it has been wet for what seems like all of this year. The figures are that since 23rd September we have received 466.5 mm (19 ins) of rain until 30th November.

The rolling annual rainfall 1.12.18 to 30.11.19 is 1379 mm (55.8 ins). The average rainfall for the last 6 years (January to December) is 41 ins per year. Before long it will stop raining and maybe 2020 will be very dry which will take the totals back to the average figures – first prediction. Second prediction – a colder and whiter spell than we have seen in the last few winters.

Practical work on the farm has included a few acres of planting on a field with lighter soil. We have also been repairing gateways, fences and maintaining machinery. There has been only a little hedge cutting taking place on my land because we leave the fruit laden hedges for the wildlife until later in the winter – the downside of that is the later cutting takes off some of the young hedge shoots so spring growth is slower. Some hedges are cut biannually but that leaves them looking much rougher with split ends of wood.

Huge thanks to Boyd who recently stopped about 24 unwanted pregnancies. Jacques, the Charolais ram who is in retirement, managed to escape from his field and to navigate his way towards Colliers Wood and then through the Valley to Tinkers Lane and up towards the village where his “girls” (the ewes) live. A pretty impressive nearly 2 mile trek for a ram –they are not noted for long distance work – too much swinging about! Boyd spotted Jacques and his accomplice Forecast heading towards the harem and called me about stray sheep. I was disbelieving but thought that it was probably wise to check out these nomadic sheep that had appeared on the farm. By the time I arrived they were in the ewe’s field and heading towards the girls who were surprised and delighted to see the arrival of such ovine masculinity.

A serious panic then set in – I really did not want to have the ewe flock lambing next year – too much to do already. A pen was quickly erected and the sheep squashed up so that there was not room for Jacques to perform. Luckily the long trek to reach his girls had exhausted Jacques so his reactions were a little slow. He was removed from the pen and transported by Landrover back to his field where the fence was repaired to prevent a repeat performance. Thanks again Boyd.

I am writing this 6 days before the General Election and I gather that you may be reading this over the Festive period so here are my political / New Year wishes for 2020:-

  • For the rain to stop
  • For politicians to make decisions based upon science rather than who can shout loudest or has the most twitter followers
  • Recognition that so many farming and environmental issues are interrelated so one “win” may adversely affect many more important issues.
  • Acceptance that cheap food cannot be produced to high welfare and environmental standards
  • Change the law so that food produced abroad using methods that are illegal in the UK cannot be sold in the UK – you would be amazed how much food that you and your family eat is produced in a way that would be totally banned in the UK.
  • A fair media – the recent BBC programmes about beef production are an example. The programme did not recognise that beef produced from huge feedlots in Brazil where the animals ate maize produced on land that was once Amazon jungle and is then transported to the UK has a completely different environmental impact to home grown beef that has spent it life grazing grass just a few miles from where it is consumed. The grass is going to grow anyway so let the animals eat it.

May your hopes be fulfilled and your gardens and my crops have favourable conditions

in 2020.

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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