Catch up post

With summer tasks in full swing I am very sorry that the number of posts I have been able to write on here has diminished. Wherever you are in the country (assuming you are a UK reader) you will know what I mean when I say that the heat is bearable but it does tend to slow things down a bit (unsure whether we can call this weather a ‘heatwave’ anymore, it seems rather stuck in for now). I’ve had some new additions at home. Paul the cockerel and six hens are gradually making themselves comfortable, although they certainly aren’t enjoying the heat. Lots of water being consumed and dust baths being made. Also in the garden, harvest has begun in some areas of the veg patch, with leafy green salads, spring onions and herbs heading from the bed to the kitchen table and being happily consumed by the rest of the family. Courgette plants are getting bigger by the day with their glorious yellow flowers rising and falling. The broad beans, french beans and runner beans are climbing up and up. I need to put some netting over my carrots which are sprouting nicely but that should hopefully pay off in the long run. I don’t want to fall victim to carrot fly! Thankfully I haven’t had any pest problems to date (yet), with the dry weather evidently helping with the avoidance of slugs and probably being lucky elsewhere.

Credit: Jasper Fell-Clarke –

On the farm the big focus is on working towards our sea buckthorn harvest. For those of you that don’t know, sea buckthorn is a shrub that produces the most glorious slightly sour tasting bright orange berries. Regular tasks at this time of year include strimming to keep the weeds down (a seemingly endless task when you grow anything organically), fertiliser application (compost tea) and a lot of data collection so we know how well the berries are ripening on various varieties. If you don’t do this, then you can’t plan ahead and know which varieties will be ripening when. We grow a breadth of varieties on the farm, some of which come from Siberia, some from Germany, Latvia and Finland. This year’s crop will mostly be heading to London restaurants, but if you are interested and would like a punnet, do get in touch and I’ll let you know when they are available.

I’m trying to get a number of other projects off the ground on the farm as well (I’ll let you know in time I promise), but everything takes time, and it’s harder to move forward on these when there is so much else to do! On top of this there is writing, Meet the Farmers, AFON (looking forward to our summer committee meeting next month!) etc, all adding to the workload at an already busy time of year.

Summer is certainly a wonderful time wherever you are, but for me it’s especially good to be at home in Essex. I love it here at all times of year, but it’s easier to feel good about the place in the summer when everything bounds with life and everyone around you is busy moving forward with summer tasks, or enjoying themselves (yes, the hoards of summer tourists have now started heading to the local beaches on a daily basis). Haymaking has come and gone. The arable crops are ripening in the fields. Our partner shepherd’s sheep have been shorn and they stand naked in the fields, freed of their wooly overcoat.

Away from the farm I’m looking forward to (or should that be hopelessly unprepared for) walking the Suffolk Coast Path in a couple of weekend’s time. I leave from Lowestoft with a couple of very good mates on Friday 30th June and we are planning to arrive in Felixstowe after lunch on Sunday 2nd July. Wish me luck! I will attempt to tweet along the route. Hopefully heat or rain won’t hinder us.

I hope you all have exciting plans for the summer and are able to enjoy the good weather and opportunities to get outside, whether that is at home or abroad. I hope you are able to put aside the terrible events and news of recent weeks and be positive moving in to the future. My thoughts will remain with all those who have experienced loss as a result of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the dreadful fire in West London. Simply dreadful, but from the ashes we must rise in hope and optimism.

Away from my own day to day, politics continues to look uncertain. The election threw everything upside down again and then stirred the pot to pretend we are in a drastically different situation to pre – general election, whereas the reality is not so different. We are still heading towards a Brexit negotiated by the May team. This will dominate the next five years. Northern Irish politics are likely to come to the fore again as the DUP strengthen their position. Scottish independence looks far less likely. Mr Gove has begun his premiership at Defra. Goodness knows what that will mean in the long-term for farmers and environmentalists. In the mean time, we can but get on with our lives, and make the best of a confused situation. I will endeavour to write posts as often as I can but I hope you understand if the number remains low for the time being!



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