Lots of things happening up at Rathfinny, hence the slow blogging. Much to report on the planning and building front but I will leave that to Mark- I’m not diplomatic enough…in a nutshell we are making headway, but, in the words of our farm agent Andy Samuels, what starts off as a journey turns into a crusade when dealing with planning. I just can’t understand why anyone would want to make a project as exciting, beautiful and sustainable as ours difficult. I think I’d better stop there before I start ranting- or worse, put my un-politically correct foot in it.
A lot of my time has been spent on things environmental. We have now started the restoration on the headland and brought the farm into Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) with Natural England with the Higher Level (HLS) to follow.
Any watchers of Country File this Sunday would have heard about some of the ways an arable farm can increase it’s biodiversity without compromising the viability of the farm. We are doing simple things like not trimming hedgerows and mowing the field margins every year thus allowing wildlife to be left undisturbed and food sources for them to grow. As well as that we are leaving the field stubble in the ground till spring instead of ploughing it back into the earth. This provides shelter and peace for ground nesting birds over winter .
I have talked about the bank before it is the 12 hectares that we will leave unfarmed but managed in a way so that the chalk grassland regenerates. The South Downs National Park Rangers and volunteers have been busy clearing the scrub so that the sun can get to the grass – it’s a big job – I would be tempted to just put a bulldozer through it but that compromises the wild life so it’s not a goer and it is going to be done by hand!
Staying on the subject of things environmental I have had my last dealings with the bees until next spring **audible sigh of relief **– they have been treated for Veroa Mite, which involved me putting an ‘eke’ in the hive – that’s a spacer for the uninitiated and a tablet of something to kill the Veroa – they’re a nasty mini bug that lives on Bees. I’m also on the look out for killer hornets- that’s an unwanted French contribution to our eco-system. Though good luck to anything which has a go at invading that hive- it’s already successfully fended off Cameron, the dog and me on more than one occasion.