Sunday 10 July 2016

The Harvest Beckons

So far here in North Kent, we've had over a week of dry weather and no rain. Some days have seen almost hot sunshine, some cloudy but humid weather and for most days there has been a strong and drying wind. Consequently, local landowners have at last, begun and successfully completed, hay-making. They have now begun harvesting the rape fields and this too is going very well and so all of a sudden, the weather related doom and gloom has gone and things are catching up. This is also apparent in the other arable fields of wheat and barley, the wet and warm weather has filled the ears with plump grains and yields look like they should be fairly high. The only downside of that is the high Black Grass content through the grain fields. Despite all their best efforts, farmers seem to be facing an uphill battle against this weed. It appears to have become resistant to spraying and so deep ploughing in the autumn has been the most recent suggestion. This has the effect of burying the seeds deep enough to stop them germinating and also has the beneficial effect of opening up compacted soil to improve drainage. Unfortunately fields here on Sheppey that were deep ploughed a couple of years ago, still have a 40% infestation of Black Grass this year, I guess there's little you can do if the seed is in the wheat seed that you buy in and sow.
I had a Hedgehog in my back garden early yesterday morning, which, given the slug infested and overgrown nature of it, makes for pretty ideal habitat for the creatures and I'd love to have them reside there. Unfortunately, owning two terriers, I've had to do my best to keep them out which is a real shame and I miss having them here and feel guilty at not helping an animal that is in dire straight these days.

I read an enormous amount of books each year, still in the old-fashioned, non-kindle way. I favour autobiographies and biographies, especially those about privileged people from the 1930's and 40's and especially members of the Bloomsbury Set. Currently I'm reading a new one by the Countryside farmer Adam Henson about his life to date and prior to that an 820 page book on Paul MCartney and another about the artist Sir Alfred Munnings and his life in an artists community in Cornwall pre WW1.

The reserve is now very overgrown and settling down into the post breeding lull, only butterflies and the start of returning wader migrants now seek to break the ordinary-ness of each day. Green Sandpipers and Greenshanks are beginning to pass through on early autumn migration and Cuckoos have already left. Below is a badly taken photo of a Gatekeeper butterfly on Ragwort, a plant that is a saviour to so many insects on the marsh in the summer.

I came across this small toadstall/fungus peeping out of the grass yesterday and have never seen one before. According to my wildlife book it is a Blackening Wax Cap but I'm happy to be corrected on that.


  1. Life is sweet, then Derek? It is here, too, where I am reading science fiction on my kindle. :-) cheers!

  2. I guess a kindle is the best way to get at books where you live Wilma.

  3. I have not long finished the new one by Juliet Nicolson about the generations of Sackville women.There are ties between some of them and Bloomsbury of course.Its a good read.

  4. That is a good book Angela, I read it a couple of months ago. Juliet herself did well to survive drink problems. Another good one is "A life of David Garnett - Bloomsbury's Outsider" by Sarah Knights

    1. Thanks for that.
      Will order it from the library but can't place him.
      Did I read that there was a new one about Carrington as well?

  5. I shall be interested to know what you think to the Adam Henson book Derek. I saw it on the shelf at Tesco last week and was rather tempted to buy it. I always enjoy his contribution to Countryfile - he does seem a nice, genuine country chap.

  6. Interesting your talking about barns where the farmer lived above the cattle Derek - the farmer was only talking about this at lunch time. I suppose that the warmth came higher up their list of priorities than the smell.

  7. I smiled at your reply to Rachel about you herding a bull and cows from one field to another on the Reserve Derek. I think a bull makes all the difference - the cows do as they are told with a bull (if only it were the same with humans I hear you thinking.)