February on the farm
Mild weather, spring pruning and moving cattle
Apart from a short wintry spell, the mild, dry weather has continued. We’re hoping for an early spring as the livestock are getting through the hay a bit too quickly!We’ve started returning some of the younger cattle to St Aidan’s. We’re taking a few down in the trailer each week until there are the 30 cattle required for the spring.The spring calving cows are due to start at the end of March and with lambing early April we could do with another spell of fine weather then.In the woodlands, we’ve been cutting back brambles around the young trees and planting a few more in any gaps. Rhododendron has also been cut back around the ice house pond as, although pretty, for a few weeks it’s poisonous to livestock. It’s also of little wildlife value and is very invasive.The rushes on our marshland and St Aidan’s have been topped in preparation for spring. It’s important to control their spread so more grass can grow and it’s beneficial for ground-nesting birds such as lapwing. With the rushes cut back they have a clear view of approaching predators.
Garden preparation (and pesky rabbit prevention!)
In the garden, we’ve continued with strimming and general tidying, so the rabbits can’t hide!The beds have been rotated, with muck applied to the areas which will be used for beans, peas and sweetcorn. Early crops of salad leaves, carrots and spinach have been sown in the polytunnel and parsnips have been planted in the walled garden.In the small, heated polytunnel, we’ve started tomatoes, onions, leeks, celeriac, broccoli and cauliflowers. The seed potatoes have arrived and, if the weather stays mild, we may be tempted to plant a few seed potatoes under fleece covers.We’ll be holding regular garden volunteer days throughout the summer and these will be the first Saturday monthly, 11am-3pm. Come along to help for as long as you want, or just to have a wander around if you like!