Monday, 26 April 2010
Blackthorn & Blossom, Soil Association Inspection, Song Thrush Nest Building
In our orchards the plum trees are in full blossom though the apple trees are still tight grey buds except, interestingly, the old variety of apple that is known as Marged Nicholas which is local to Carmarthenshire.
The hedge banks along the drive are full of flowers now, violets, wild strawberries, celandines, stitchwort and of course the great golden pennies of dandelions.
Having spent the morning baking, (Welsh cakes & chocolate cake) and then given the Farmer & Elder Son their lunch, I have just come in from doing duty as a gate, as a bunch of young steers were put out onto grass after their long winter in one the cattle sheds. Oh, how they bounced and kicked their heels before settling down to graze on the lovely fresh grass.
The Farmer is very busy getting ready for our Soil Association annual inspection which takes place tomorrow. Although the paperwork is all in order, it does all have to be gone through carefully to make no sure we have no glaring errors or ommissions. As well as the having to comply with the organic standards we also have to make sure that other assurance schemes are adhered to concerning animal welfare and that everything is recorded. We have to have herd health plans, soil management plans, livestock management plans, forage management plans, a risk assessmant plan and a COSH analysis. Most of these are then broken down under many sub-headings. It is very much a case of where one word would do please use 10, and do not use common sense and the knowledge gained by years of experience. And we have to pay for the privilege of an inspection. We don't actually object to the inspection per se, but over the years the amount of paperwork involved has increased and the pettiness of what has to be on paper that is required has become ridiculous. And this is a problem that is not only with the Soil Association but all the other bodies that farmers are required to deal with.deal with. We did choose to join the SA, but many of the other organisations we have no choice over.
Outside one of my kitchen windows we have a song thrush nesting behind a thick curtain of ivy that drapes over a wall. The thrushes have been very busy and bustling bringing nesting materials for the last couple of days. They arrive with enormous beakfuls of moss and then dive behind the ivy where a lot of activity ensues as they weave the moss into their beautiful nest. It will be lined with mud and will be very snug for the rearing of another generation of thrushes. We won't take closer look at the nest until the end of the summer when we can be sure that we won't disturb the birds.
We were watching some goldfinches this morning while having elevenses. They were feasting on some dandelions that I had intended to remove from the terrace at the back of the house. I shall have to leave them now for a while.