Monday, 27 August 2007

Wheat harvesting yesteryear

This photograph shows how they used to harvest wheat on the farm in, we think, the 1920's- very different from today!

Harvest moon

At the end of a long day on the farm - we all sat in the garden and watched the sun set and the harvest moon rise over the Malvern Hills and the valley below - a day when we feel pleased with our labours!

Tipping the wheat in the grain store

We have already cleaned out the grain store ready for the wheat. The tractor and trailer reverse into the store and the grain is tipped onto the floor. The wheat stays there then until we need it for the chickens and then it is put back onto the trailer and taken around to the chicken houses and put into the bins that hold their feed.

Wheat - harvest

These three photos show the combine in action - the header is moving through the crop, inside the machine the wheat and the straw are separated - can you see the straw coming out of the back? When the combine is full of wheat, the wheat is put into a trailer and the tractor takes the trailer to the grain store. We store our wheat on the farm for our chickens to eat - zero food miles!

Wheat - moving the combine

When we move the combine to a new field it will not go through the gates on the farm, as it is too wide with the header on the front. You can see in the first photo that we take the header off the front of the combine and put it onto a trailer that is pulled by a tractor. The header is the part of the combine that cuts down the wheat and draws the plant into the combine so that we can separate the wheat from the straw. When we get into the new field the tractor and trailer and the combine are manouvered so that the combine driver can put the header back onto the combine. It is a very big machine and the driver has to be very accurate as he (or she) approaches the trailer. See second photo!

Harvesting the wheat

This picture shows the damage that the heavy rain has made on the crop, flattening it in places. On our farm the fields are the relatively small, compared to the large fields in East Anglia - see the old hedges around the edge - this makes combining a little more tricky for us. The combine starts by going around the field and you can see the straw that has been left behind. This will be baled up later with a baling machine. It has been sold to other farmers who will use it on their farms for their sheep and cattle.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Walking around the wheat fields

The wheat was nearly ready to be harvested and then it rained again! We check if the wheat is ready by rubbing an ear in our hands - blowing away the chaff and looking at, and biting, the wheat kernel. You can tell how ripe the wheat is by the colour and and how hard it is when you bite it. If you think it is nearly ready then you can check with a moisture meter.

Why is it important - if we harvest the wheat when it is too wet and then store it the wheat will deteriorate and can go mouldy. This could make it inedible for people and animals. We have to mechanically dry the wheat if it is too wet and this adds to the harvest costs so a farmer keeps checking and hoping it comes right.

It will need a few days to dry out when the sun finally comes out.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Pest controllers

Our trainee feline pest controllers Morris and Maggie are finding their apprenticeship rather taxing as this photo shows! They like to take the odd power nap in the farm office!

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Oil seed rape - harvest

As you can see from the photos the rape seed is now in the storage shed awaiting collection to be turned into animal feed, vegetable oil, or biodiesel. The large "stalks" you see left in the field will in a month or so's time be cultivated back into the field and provide all the nutrients for next year's crop that will be planted.
So the blog now shows the full story of oil seed rape from planting to harvest.

Friday, 17 August 2007


The blackberries are starting to ripen on the hedges - so we will soon be out picking them. Delicious with homemade muesli for breakfast!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Oil Seed Rape - Harvested!

Well we have harvested all the oil seed rape - the combines were busy on Sunday and Monday and we have all the seed stored in the shed. Check out the photos!

Ragwort warning

Maybe it is the wet summer weather, but I can't remember seeing as much ragwort as this year. The yellow weed is everywhere on scrub ground and road-side banks and verges. Ragwort is one of five dangerous weeds covered by the provisions of The Weeds Act 1959. According to the Defra website, under the Act, the Secretary of State may serve an enforcement notice on the occupier of land on which injurious weeds are growing, requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the spread of injurious weeds. It is important to control ragwort because it is poisonous to equines namely horses, ponies, donkeys as well as other livestock. Ragwort causes liver damage, which can in some cases be fatal. It is important to control the plant material properly during activities to control its growth and spread because all parts of the ragwort plant are toxic and harmful to animals even when treated or wilted.Further information can be found at:

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Combine is coming!

Yesterday was a rather sad day with the news about foot and mouth, and a rather sad post on the blog. The news coverage brought back lots of memories! Today looks brighter, we have two combines coming this afternoon to start combining the rape - so we are making a start on the harvest. Everyone around us has been very busy in the summer sun preparing for harvest - if we have another good week then we will really get going. I will post some photos later.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Foot and Mouth Disease

Today as I drove around Herefordshire I found myself thinking about all the fields I saw that were filled with suckler herds (beef cows and calves), lambs and ewes. Foot and Mouth is in the UK! It drew me back to a prayer issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the 2001 crisis:

Eternal God, our loving Creator, look with compassion on those whose life's work is in ashes and all who are caught up in the crisis affecting our farming communities. Give grace and wisdom to all who carry heavy burdens of responsibility: those who have to slaughter and dispose of affected animals; those who administer the necessary systems of controls; those deciding Government policy. And in your mercy grant that our countryside may soon be free from this disease and turmoil, that all your creatures may flourish, families and communities be at peace, and all be free to enjoy the beauty of your creation. We ask this in the name of the great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Let's hope that this outbreak is localised and quickly under control, above all it struck me how unsuspecting the animals were today, as they grazed in the fields!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Herbs and vegetables

The rain has certainly made our herbs and vegetables grow in the raised beds - great for our first year of raised beds!

Oil Seed Rape - harvesting soon

The oil seed rape is nearing the time to be harvested. I thought you might like one last picture or two! Even though it has been flattened in places by the rain - we are hoping to combine soon.

Fruit of our labours!

The damsons, apples and tree nuts are all growing well - i'm looking forward to fruit crumble!