There is an awful lot going on at the farm at the moment now that the days are lengthening. The last few days have been absolutely glorious, with warm sunshine and not too cold nights. It really does feel that spring is well and truly on its way now, which is fantastic for us, although there will always be a whiff of winter around the corner for at least the next six weeks or so. We are working long days to make the most of the almost perfect conditions when they do present themselves and I suppose the most important operation to begin with is spring drilling. We are very busy planting spring oats at the moment which will be used for the Duchy Originals biscuits, as well as barley for the Duchy Originals ale and plenty of vegetables.
As soon as Nick, the Assistant Farm Manager, has finished planting one field, we roll the seed bed down to conserve the moisture and make sure that there is good soil to seed contact. The rooks appear to recognise a seed drill instantly and within the first few minutes they are desperately trying to pitch into the crop, determined to eat as much as they can before we are on to them.
When a flock of birds gets up to 300 or 400 they can be a real pain and it's important to go round regularly to all of the newly sewn fields with bird-scarers, until the crop has emerged and the seed has withered away, because that's the only time they will relent.