Friday, 6 February 2015

Winter Landscapes, Winter Farming

My 300th posting! and as so often the weather will feature! It is soooo cold, but dry and today it was sunny so really a lovely day. There is still ice around and tiny pockets of snow with the top fields looking as though someone has gone over them with sugar sifter.

We recieved an email from an old friend today who grew up here on the farm & is now warden of the RSPB bird reserve on the Dyfi estuary in Ceredigion & he sent a beautiful description of winter on the estuary & his memories of Penyrallt in winter;

'It is a spectacularly beautiful, brilliantly sunlit day. Frost is suspended in slow moving curtains across the valley, creating an icy haze. Frost crystals suspended on wind bleached strands of sedge and molinia tall grasses, shiver to create the most exquisite delicate musical notes. Deep frost covers all saltings; Sheet ice covers all tidal scrapes and pools and ice begins to form up on all river shallows,and gravel bed fringes at lowest tidal ebb.
We have lost our earlier overwintering 400+ Barnacle geese; they have moved on but our Goldeneye, Teal, fewer Pintail, Little Grebes and Egrets, three pairs of Kites, Wigeon and Greylags provide daily company.

On beautiful, hazy frosty days such as this, my mind often drifts southward only to settle and relive again those magnificent landscapes across fields and wooded slopes and secret track-way from Penrallt Home Farm, leading down to the Siedi. The bouquet of your oak woods in November and the magical "silence" of your land when under deep snow. The utterly spellbinding discovery of "Roding" male Woodcock in airborne courtship display at dusk, in spring and early summer, over your woods in that shallow valley between you and neighbouring Mountain Farm, are all deeply embedded with permanence.'

After that lovely lyricism back to bald agricultural realities; The last couple of days have seen proper winter farming activity with the spreading of slurry on the fields. Big tractors take long pipes out to the fields. This pipe system is know as the umbilical cord and the pipes are filled by a tractor-mounted pump standing by the slurry lagoon. The slurry then is sprayed onto the fields which in this dry weather means it can seep into the ground distributing the invaluable nutrients to enrich the soil & encourage good grass growth which is so important to our organic system. Nutrient rich soil is the key to a healthy organic system which in its turn is the key to nutritionally rich food.

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