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June 5 it ain’t easy



Any de-stressing that 24hrs away from the farm accomplished ( was soon undone this week.  Losing half a day to Bank Holiday, we just did the morning on orders, followed by two wet days set us way back, which didn’t help.  I was interviewed for the BBC World Service on migrant workers in Boston in view of the forthcoming referendum – we wouldn’t have a business without them – but like anyone else, they come with their problems.  Monika is a joy to be around, smiling and laughing all day long, come what may.  Another was attempting to quit smoking, another story.

We sheet the lettuce to keep off the marauding pigeons, which has the knock-on effect of creating a micro-climate in which the aphids thrive.  If we aren’t careful, the temperature beneath will cause rots and bolting.  We remove the sheet to assess the crop, the waiting pigeons move in and then the wind blows a gale for several days, burning the leaves, their leaf tips scorched black.  No Dick Strawbridge, it certainly isn’t easy being green.  In desperation we have invested in a new netting that allows the insects to come and go and through which the crop is more visible than previously, it also protects from hail damage, we have had ready chopped lettuce in the past.  It was horrendously expensive, but what’s the alternative?

Planting wise we have done no more than plant lettuce, always our no. 1 priority, the first batch of curly kale and the elite team (Clyde, Dicken and myself) have continued planting squash on the twilight shift.  Then the plant raiser turns up uninvited with two carriers more of squash, when we still had lettuce, fennel and sweet corn laid out as far as the eye could see saying plant me, unwelcome indeed on a Friday.  On a positive he did say our farm always looks tidy and “it is organic as well”.  I needed the morale boost, I felt I was drowning in plants and weeds.

Sunday morning and I had the farm almost to myself as I crop walked, along with three hares in the lettuce, pheasant and partridge hens with their broods down the track, a moor hen and chick flew off the wild life pond, while an agitated lapwing tried to lead me off scent.  The broad beans are ready for a tentative pick, while this week we took a few boxes bunched baby beet and celery from a tunnel.

My garden centre visited was aborted after a call from the security firm that the intruder alarm to the farm buildings had been set off.  Our darling swallows in the mower shed again!

Pam, Dicken and Clyde and the Strawberry Fields’ team of 2016

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