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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

By The Barn - February

February, the shortest month of the year and when we notice the days getting longer (and the cold getting stronger!).

Well into lambing now, we are tired and looking forward to a short break  in the lambing cycle-a result of when we removed the tups from the flock for a week or two, back in the autumn. It means we can catch up with our sleep and other jobs that need doing, such as finishing laying hedges, repairing fences, muck spreading etc.

As we walk across to where we are working, our old, permanent pasture fields show little grass, but lots of mosses and lichens.

These are primitive plants and the same as you find in your lawns. Small, green and flowerless, they use spores, blown on the wind to colonize. There are approximately 600 species of moss in this country.

ichen is a combination of two plants- a fungus and an alga and is rootless. It is sensitive to pollution and usually is seen on the wetter, darker sides of branches, stones etc.

We can also see the new bird boxes, which have been put up by some Scouts for their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. These are easily seen at the moment, as there are no leaves obscuring them from view, but as the Spring comes we wont be able to spot them or their inhabitants so easily with the leaf cover. There are owl boxes, blue tit, sparrowhawk and Bat boxes, all put in places where the different species prefer to nest.

Considering the strong winds we had recently, they have held up well. The Scouts will come regularly to monitor any activity in them and well done to them putting them up, as some required climbing tackle to get them into position!

From the 1st of January, the laying hen cage bird directive came into being- this means that more room is given to hens producing eggs. We have spent £400m bringing our cages up to standard, at a cost of £20 plus per bird. Unfortunately, many countries ( France, Spain, Italy and Poland, to name a few) will not be compliant and their eggs, we are told, can still come into this country. These countries have had 12 years to come up to standard and, again, our industry will be undermined by cheaper foreign imports.

At least the electronic individual tagging of our historic sheep flock has been put off for a couple of years and this means that most of the older sheep will be long gone by the time it comes into force- sense at last!

And, of course, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones- from the 1st of January all farmers in an nvz area(a lot of Derbyshire) have to have 6months storage for slurry- affecting mainly dairy farmers and adding to the cost of production.

Yet, we hear of the fertilizing of the uplands for a regeneration project and where does this fertilizer go? Washed down to the lowlands, of course!

Angela Sargent,

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