For every edition of the local village newsletter I write an article about the farm and what's been happening with the animals and how the surrounding countryside is changing. When sitting down writing one afternoon it dawned on me that previous visitors and those that are thinking of coming to Rhydhowell Farm, to stay or just to wander round the nature trail, may be interested in reading it.
On The Farm
Another year on the farm is well in progress, the lambing is finished, and there are just the grazing fields to chain harrow and roll and the field work will be completed until we start on the silage.
It is amazing what a difference good spring weather makes to what we are able to do on the work front, but the cold nights are not helping things to grow. The animals have to be moved on a regular basis as the grass is not getting ahead of them yet. Normally they would start with three fields which would be reduced to two, but that has not yet been possible.
The wild flowers seem to be particularly colourful this year, possibly because there has not been a lot of rain to wash them out. The bluebells in the wood are making a really good show and the primroses seem to be lasting for ages. The different colours of green as the trees burst into leaf have been almost as spectacular as the browns in the autumn, particularly if the sun is shining on them at the right angle.
There is a small clump of cowslips growing by the silage pit so will have to try and save the seed from them and try and increase the numbers, unfortunately they have a tendency to cross pollinate with the primroses and primulas so are often difficult to grow true to type. The other alternative would be to dig them up and divide them but there are so few the risk is losing the lot.
The winter winds have toppled several quite large trees around the farm, we have managed to clear most of those that fell in the fields but there are at least a dozen more down the woods from which it would be nice to salvage the best timber for planking rather than just cutting them up for firewood.
There are birds nesting all over the place, the wagtail has built hers under the bonnet of the tractor again, I have lost count of how many years they have nested there and they nearly always manage to rear two broods. The children have put up ten new nest boxes this year so it will be interesting to see if they get used, we have also made a couple of boxes with much smaller holes, which have been filled with straw to see if the insects and bumble bees will be attracted to them. Future projects include making an owl box for the barn and hedgehog boxes to put in the slope down by the river, we are hoping to make these out of plywood that is strong enough that once they are grassed over they will take the weight of the farm animals.
They have also been pulling up the blackthorn suckers that are growing in the fields and replanting them in the gaps in the hedges and collecting young oak and ash trees that they are putting in pots with the intention of replanting together as a new copse in the woods. Of the two basket willow hedges that they planted last year one was very successful but the other was very patchy so we cut some more whips and tried again. Even though a lot of them were over four foot long they have nearly all taken, so when we have the drought we have been promised for this year will have to remember to water them!
During the winter the temperature in the big greenhouse dropped to -5C and wiped out nearly all of the plants so we are in the progress of giving it a really good clean out, which it desperately needed. Whether we restock with Fuchsias will have to be given some thought as they are so susceptible to attack by vine weevils, which unfortunately were not affected by the frost!
Want to come and look around? We welcome visitors.
Well, that’s all for now,