Enormous changes as the spring finally takes a hold

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Another mixed week of dampness and dry days, the colder wind continuing to keep temperatures down, but spring is certainly here now.

A cascade of colour has suddenly appeared, both in local gardens, villages and in the countryside. The woods are a vivid blue as bluebells take over and totally dominate the woodland floor, whilst blackthorn is snow-like on the hedges and woodland edge. The last week or ten days have brought enormous change and it looks as if it will be warmer this week.

Our maize ground is all ploughed and we are busy liming, sub-soiling, and fertilizing as we work against the clock to have everything ready in time for the final cultivation before drilling.

We are a couple of days ahead of schedule, but then I had built a day or two of wet weather into my calculations; just in case. We are grass drilling the leather-jacket damage this week, and starting to repair and drill some of the other areas damaged over the last year. There are many areas which will need to be lifted with the sub-soiler before being worked down and that will take place next month once we have drilled the maize.

We have bought a triple set of flat rollers which when folded out will be much wider than the standard flat roller used in the past, and although I have never seen the need to roll over the many years I have farmed at Crouchlands, we certainly have plenty to roll this year!

Finding enough tractors, drivers and hours in the day is a challenge at this time of year, especially to take all the various fertilizers to the right place at the right time for spreading, and this year we will need to take extra fertilizer with the maize seed to all the various fields, having made the decision to put some available nutrients in the ground next to the seed.

We have also been spraying docks at Crouchlands, and thistle, ragwort and other weeds at Tillington. The docks seem to have taken a hit and I hope they die off and disappear before silaging; otherwise we will have dead leaves in the grass silage which is not desirable.

Tillington weeds are more difficult to deal with and we shall spray under the fences a second time to make sure the ragwort is cleared. Grass growth is picking up pace now on both farms and the silage ground is beginning to motor.

The heifers are all eating tremendous amounts of grass, at Tillington we have plenty in front so I am taking more over there from the shed, whilst at Crouchlands we are concerned about the available grazing which is how it should be in April.

We had a cow with a ripped vein in her udder last week, most likely to have been trodden on by another cow, which is a drawback of loose yards.

It was on the outside of the udder and it didn’t seem to bother her all that much, but the amount of blood being pumped out was considerable. It was milking time and she had to be milked in order to loosen the udder so we could get a clamp on the vein whilst we waited for the vet.

In a scene which would have done justice to a horror movie, she was quickly sown up with Gwenan hanging on to the back leg which was hoisted up in the crush to give the veterinary surgeon space to work. Right as rain the next day and it has all healed up with no problem.

Owen Patterson’s announcement on the bTB trials last week were disappointing and a kick in the teeth for farmers suffering, and under threat from this disease up and down the country.

The trials will continue in Somerset and Gloucestershire, but not rolled out in Dorset. No doubt the protesters will be out in force, and will be celebrating the fact that they caused enough disruption in Gloucestershire to harm the trial there and frighten politicians around the Cabinet table in No 10; the aim of the game these days. Where do we go from here? That is a big question which seems to have no answer at the moment. Will Patterson survive the next re-shuffle? Will anyone else be brave enough to take the lead in this area if he goes?

The non-event of last week was the ‘big debate’ between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage over Europe. What did we learn? Nothing about the issue that’s for sure; Clegg failed totally to convey the reasons for and the advantages of being in the European Union, whilst Farage did his usual trick of entertaining, whilst appearing to be the average bloke off the street who wants us out of this stifling, expensive club.

Why does he do so well? Because career politicians are disliked, and Clegg is the consummate career politician who says nothing, out of touch, demoralising. He was the only one foolish enough to put himself up against Farage who cannot lose.

Farage has nothing behind him, and heads up a single issue group and UKIP do as much harm as possible to our European membership by winning seats as MEP’s, taking the money and doing nothing.

But he strikes a nerve; politicians are not connected to ordinary people, they do not understand the concerns, they seem unsympathetic, they speak in code and say nothing. Lack of skills and unemployment is a big issue; immigration worries people and endless red-tape and beurocracy hampers competitiveness.

Unlike Nick Clegg, I believe the European Union will be very different in ten years’ time, not least because the concerns of British people are shared across the EU and things will have to change.

At least Farage is allowed his opinions and to express them on air; unlike those who dare to question climate change who are to be silenced! Ministers are to tow the Government line on this issue, and the BBC is apparently to give less time to sceptics, with editors seeking special clearance to interview dissident politicians.

The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph are also criticised for placing ‘Heavy reliance on the ability of their readers to distinguish between fact and opinion on climate change’; how patronising is that? This is not exactly democracy in action is it? This is more of the same from the likes of Nick Clegg whose view of democracy is the Liberal Democrats who hold few seats in the House of Commons propping up the Conservative Party this time around, but will happily prop up a minority Labour Government next time, whilst hardly anyone voted for them. No wonder people are disillusioned with politicians.