Mornings are becoming lighter as day length increases with the tempting hint that spring is coming. Some days are lovely bright and clear, with birds starting to sing and snow drops making an appearance after the long winter nights. Then we have another day of rain falling on saturated soils, just to remind me that spring is not here yet and my hopes of getting to the fields to start our spring planting of crops are still some way off.
I find this time of year frustrating as our heavy clay soils need time to dry out before we can work on them. But if like last year the wet winter persists, April will soon upon us before the crops are in the ground and there is the feeling of fighting a loosing battle with nature, as time runs out for the plants to grow well. Anyway, there is still plenty of time to wait for a few days of sunshine to dry the soils out and bring them back to life after winter.
Until then we have been busy with a couple of winter projects in the workshop. Firstly we have converted an old grain trailer, giving it a new lease of life to transport our digger to different fields. Father and Marvin have cut and welded steel into place and now it is ready for a coast of paint to finish the job off.
The second main project has been the laying of a new drying floor in the grain store. This is a major investment that will dry the crops once it is harvested by blowing warm air through a perforated wood and metal floor. The principle is a bit like a hairdryer, but the scale is somewhat bigger, as the floor is capable of drying around 400tonnes of grain at a time. The floor is laid and now just needs finishing off by laying concrete around the edges. The concrete is ordered and when it arrives, it will be all hands to the deck manning wheel barrows to get the concrete from the lorry to the back of the barn in good time, hopefully without spilling any. If all goes to plan it will be a bit like a synchronised wheelbarrow derby.
From LEAF Demonstration Farmer Duncan Farrington