Ploughing, hoggs and the beacon...
Emma Heseltine - 05 June 2012
There is a corner of one of the arable fields at Wallace field that is getting triticale and wild bird seed mix sown on it, but it’s a bit dishevelled looking so we need it ploughing first. Neighbour John has come round with his big red tractor and is ploughing it up. It’s been pretty boggy but the nice weather has dried it out a bit so now we can get on and sort it out. The Croftlands men are helping as we try and turn over some of the bigger sods so that its all ‘brown side up’ we are also hauling out any big rocks we find. It's hard turning over the turf sausage rolls but it is starting to look more ready for seed now. The size of some of the boulders is shocking, but we manage to move most of them.
We have to move some of the hogs at Willowford, they are coming back from Slack House up the road to the farm and we have to use the trailer to move them. There are a few replacements in this lot who will be going into the flock, a few black mules which are looking especially good. They are Black Welsh Mountains crossed with the Leicester; they will go to the Suffolk tup and produce good fat lambs. The rest are destined for the plate. We get them in the pen no problem but have now attracted the attention of the Ayrshire cows they were sharing a field with. The cattle all gather round the trailer having a peep in, giving it an experimental lick and mooing at us as we load the sheep up. The Ayrshires are so nosy!
It's time for the gosling to go out at Houghton. They are big enough now and the hut is ready for them. We use the quad and trailer to ferry them from the stable to the goose hut. It's amazing how much they’ve grown in just a few weeks, some are pretty big now and are starting to make much more goose sounds. They are thrilled with their new abode, so many things to explore and nibble at, not to mention the grass; there is even some goose grass for them to have a go at. I watch some of them experimenting and deciding that nettles are not tasty, grass is very tasty and goose grass is to be fought over with vigour.
We are building the beacon at Houghton. The Halo gang are on the job and the official plan is studied carefully before we get stuck in. First a tipi is constructed, then pallets are laid around the outside. The instructions require a tunnel for efficient lighting so after some debate of the necessity of one we build one into the bonfire. This is starting to look more like a big den than a bonfire. The core is filled with lovely highly combustible things, straw and paper and the like and then packed with twigs/branches/someone’s shed. A lot of people from the village have been bringing wood all week. The pallets are continued to the top to enclose it all in and the beacon is finished. It looks pretty spectacular and the boss is quite amazed at our skills when she returns. To balance out the day we then go make some plastic-bag flowers to decorate the arch over the entrance way, which the guys happily get stuck into. It’s not all smashing wood with axes and building fires here, we like to have a variety!
Oh, and Helena and Hazel still haven’t had their calves.
Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.
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