Perfect weather during the day has enabled us to get a huge amount of work done in the last week. Maize drilling is going well and all the young-stock are out grazing.
Grass growth is good but held back by the frost at night, and with less than three weeks until silage time it has some catching up to do.
The road verges are particularly pretty this year, the lack of early grass growth allowing the wild flowers to display their wonderful colour, with the hedgerows giving the appearance of snow.
As the trees burst into leaf, the cherry in full blossom, crab apple and pear a frothy pink and white, the woodland floor is covered in bluebells, primroses, anemones, making this the best time of year for sure; everything to look forward to.
Our dawn chorus is not so good this year, as there are too many crows around having decided to build umpteen nests near the house. Their cackle interferes with a chorus which is still fairly muted and features too many sparrows, although the nightingale has arrived.
A few of our silage fields have rather a lot of docks in them but we are now too late to spray them off, the same goes for Tillington and ragwort.
Normally we would get on and spray ragwort at Tillington every year and still end up pulling a fair amount at the end of summer, I expect this year will be much worse unless we get an opportunity to spray after silage, killing them as they reappear in June.
There have been many column inches this spring about chemical sprays, in particular the European Union’s ban on ‘Neonicetinoids’.
This is a suspension for two years, pushed through following the failure of member states to reach a majority vote, and will certainly not solve the issue of declining bee numbers.
There is no evidence to suggest that bees are harmed by Neonicetinoids in field conditions and the two year ban by the EU does present a dangerous precedent of presenting populist changes which do nothing to measurably improve things for bees. It will increase costs and reduce effectiveness for farmers as after the 1st of December they will reach for older chemicals which are less targeted, quite possibly making things worse and certainly less effective.
In a difficult year up to four extra sprays will be used, and Tim Lovett of the British Beekeepers Association states that with no proof of harm from Neonicetinoids ‘We now expect farmers to use products such as Pyrethroids that we know are hazardous to bees’.
Defra opposed the ban on scientific grounds, but the day belonged to anti-farming charities and organisations who hailed it as a victory. The reality is that leading brands such as McVities, Hovis, and Weetabix are now importing wheat for the first time, forced to break their 100% commitment to British wheat due to shortages.
We are all concerned about bee numbers, but it is a complex and difficult issue with many factors and many opinions put forward as to why their numbers are declining.
Powerful groups are seriously beginning to threaten UK agriculture, assisted by the media who are only interested in a good story, as we see resistance to planning applications for pig and dairy units, labelled as ‘Mega-Farms’, and the loss of our leading GM technology a few years ago as ‘Frankenstein Foods’ was on all the front pages.
With the announcement of practically all leading supermarkets that GM feed is now to be fed to poultry we have heard or read nothing in the press. They have moved on, this is no longer a story worth covering; Neonicetinoids and Badger culling make for better headlines; totally inconsistent and irresponsible.
Tesco has called for a new era of co-operation with suppliers, admitting that it has been too tough and confrontational in its approach.
How long have farmers been complaining about this? How long and hard was the battle to persuade government that we needed a regulator?
After falling spectacularly off its perch, Tesco is licking its wounds and beginning to rebuild its business following Terry Leahy’s push for global growth and short term profits at the expense of investment in the core UK business. A new charter has been launched, giving priority to innovation, joint working, trust and respect. A new beginning? Certainly overdue and I hope others will follow suit.
It is a pity that local elections are used as punch-bags to show those in Westminster that we are not happy. Good hardworking people are thrown out and replaced by others who we know little or nothing about, simply because of the political party they belong to. What for instance is UKIP going to do for your local community?
Just because the Liberal Democrats are in an unpopular Coalition Government, the protest votes (and there were plenty of them from the one third of people who bothered to vote) went largely to UKIP. Had last Thursday been a general election, UKIP would not have won much at all in Westminster, but across the country we will now suffer the effects of the protest vote.
This is no way to run our counties and local communities; we should take party politics out of local authorities and try working together in improving matters for local people.
Nationally, protest parties always fizzle out, and UKIP is no different, although the results last week plays into the hands of those who want the increasingly panicked and wrong-footed Cameron to lurch to the right.
The real problem is that we are all rather fed up with the major parties, there is a crisis of sincerity; people just do not believe what politicians say anymore or indeed what they stand for.
As all parties merged to the centre over the last twenty years, we are left with no one who stands out as an individual, no one who dares speak his or her mind, no one who dares tell it as it is – except Nigel Farage!
He is a breath of fresh air as far as many people are concerned and whether he speaks the truth or complete nonsense it matters not, because he has opinions, he has views and he is not afraid to express them.
The reality of the above is that we could be stuck with coalition governments for some time to come, as Nick Clegg will turn from Conservative to Labour overnight if the wind changes direction; no wonder people are disillusioned.
It is the absence of a charismatic leader which causes this impasse in my view. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair both won huge majorities, had three terms of office and were both ironically brought down by their own party.
Unfortunately, it seems that local democracy will continue to suffer the protest vote, the number of people voting locally and nationally will continue to decline, and politicians will increasingly focus on a handful of seats which will decide who has the privilege of running a government with the Liberal Democrats. Step forward the next charismatic leader and save us from this misery!