Tractors, Foxes & Rain

Mechanisation Arrives at Fron Dirion

The other morning a humongous great tractor arrived at the top gate and proceeded into the field. The farmer who rents the land for the sheep was opening up some of the small openings between the fields so he can get a tractor into them.

Now I say a big tractor and it’s certainly bigger than tractors were years ago, but by modern tractor sizes it’s small. Still, it gave my rotavator a serious case of envy! It had a bucket on the front so the stones taken out to form gates were carried over to fill gaps in the walls in other parts of the fields.

The reason for all this is that he (the farmer) is going to lime the land to reduce the acidity.

I’d worked out it would cost a small fortune to lime the land, buying garden lime in 25Kg sacks, but the farmer explained that buying by the tonne was a lot cheaper. He’s intending to use prilled lime. As I understand it, this is just lime formed into water soluble pellets, which will be easier for mechanical spreading. All very high-tech stuff!

Anyway, this will enable the grass to take up nutrients better from the land and thereby feed the sheep better. One symptom of the acidity is the amount of moss-like plants smothering the grass. Just like a large lawn really!

These unwanted plants will die back a bit once the conditions change so he’ll come back in the spring with a farming version of a lawn rake attached to the tractor and scarify it. This should mean he can keep more sheep per acre or at least reduce the amount of supplementary feed.

We did feel this was a bit of an occasion, the first time ever a tractor has been in some of the fields. It’s a humbling thought that the last time that this land was worked it would have been by horse drawn equipment. We celebrated the introduction of power farming with a cup of tea.

Fox Problem

He was telling me the fox problem has been worse this year than any he could remember and he’d lost quite a few lambs to foxes. It’s not just chicken keepers who suffer with them. He said everything had to live and usually he lost a lamb or two to foxes but it was out of control this year. I got the impression he was willing to accept the usual small losses but this year his gun is seeing use.

I think the reason things are so bad this year is the tough winter. It’s reduced the number of rabbits and mice available so the vixens turn more to lambs and domestic poultry to feed their young. I’ve heard the theory that it’s the mad townies shipping urban foxes into the countryside but I don’t really see it being the main cause.

Rain Arrives

We’ve had a bit of rain in the last couple of days, which is great. The soil was so dry and the grass was parched. I swear the grass has grown two inches overnight since it rained. It’s really odd seeing things in need of water at this time of year. On Monday the heavens opened and it was like a monsoon. I dare say I’ll be moaning the lack of sunshine next!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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