Heifers devouring acres of grass running with the bull


Predominantly dry weather, but some useful showers at night once or twice last week. The August Bank Holiday weather has predictably been wet in most areas, but warm.

All this means that the maize crop is filling its cobs quite nicely and that there is some grass growth which should now improve.

Our gang of heifers running with the bull are devouring acres of grass at quite a pace, diminishing the number of acres for third cut which will not be taken until next month; indeed both third cut and the early maize might come in together.

I need to drill some grass seed this autumn as we have tracks across the farm where slurry tankers and builders and silage contractors have been running around. I hope to get some of this done in the next week or two.

Looking at the silage grass it has many seed heads, which my Australian friends would never see in late summer.

As they get mild winters the dormancy period of cool temperatures which the ryegrass needs to produce a seed-head is short, consequently they will have a short period of seed-heads to graze or cut and then a clear run through the summer.

In this country the winters are colder and much longer and the late cold spring this year has meant that the ryegrass at Crouchlands is still flowering in late August producing many strong stems for the seed-heads which is fibreous and low value.

The Cabbage White butterflies (known affectionately as the summer snowflake) have told all their mates about my vegetable garden and they are all here like a white cloud around the beds.

The broccoli left in place as food has been devoured and the plants look like string vests! The cabbages are now going the same way despite my taking umpteen caterpillars off them most nights; oh for a flit-gun with some good old DDT in it!

My neighbour stands guard over his vegetable patch swatting the butterflies with a badminton racket, which is another way of getting rid of one’s frustration. The butterflies are so pretty, if only the offspring did not eat brassicas. The battle against nature has been lost and I will once again be buying cabbage in the shops.

There is now an unholy row about the RSPCA and the way it is conducting itself, particularly over bovine TB and the badger culling trials.

The Charity Commission is considering enforcement action against the organisation following its aggressive campaigns which has damaged its reputation in rural areas.

For the first time in its history, the Archbishop of Canterbury has declined a role at the highest level of the RSPCA, which ends decades of the church’s leadership of the charity.

The NFU has gone to the High Court in order to protect farmers and those organising the trials from extremists who are encouraged by Brian May and the RSPCA.

Restriction orders are now placed against many individuals, as the trials are about to get underway.

Why is it so extraordinarily difficult to put across the fact that we are all out to defeat a terrible disease, and that the objective is to have disease free cattle, badgers, deer and all wildlife?

Why is it that people, dairy cows, and businesses count for nothing? Why can’t some people accept that a trial is exactly that; an attempt at proving or disproving that something works?

Why do some people assume that if they are against something that they see as ‘evil’ that they automatically have the moral high ground? Whether that be badger culling trials, fracking, road building, housing development and so on – the list is endless and we would achieve nothing if we gave in to the minorities at the fringe.

In the meantime, Defra’s bTB strategy has a raft of extra measures for farmers in order to prevent the disease spreading from the infected areas to the ‘edge’ areas, the counties such as Hampshire which are between us in West Sussex (clean areas) and the infected areas further west.

This is futile without dealing with the wildlife reservoir, and farmers are going to be under greater pressure and extra work and expense because of it. However, if the culling works and with the extra measures we will begin the long and arduous task of defeating this disease which will otherwise cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next ten years.

As a country we ran out of food produced here on 14th of August. If it were not for imports we would be quite thin by the 1st of January, and there is a debate over where our present food self-sufficiency of 61%should be. The German nation for example has 93% food sufficiency and the French as you would expect are over 100%.

Thirty years ago we produced 40 days more food than we do now, and although we are an instinctive trading nation, food and energy are far too important not to have policies which protect us from running out of either. The nation also needs protecting against extreme price volatility and if possible high prices.

The whole reason for the Common Agricultural Policy was to ensure that Europe produces a stable food supply which is safe and nutritious, taking one of the biggest threats to peace out of the equation, vowing never to see starving people in Europe as was seen after the First and Second World War.

Over reliance on imports has no penalty in times of plenty, but should anything go wrong then national governments will look after their own people. We have too many empty shelves in the UK pantry currently.