Little Forest Field in March

On the Farm in March

spring growth

Around the farm, there are signs of new growth. We have nothing in flower yet but the banks of the ditches are filling with bright green primrose leaves and the tiny fern like leaves of cow parsley.

honey bees and honeycomb

When Storm Doris blew through at the end of last month, the limb of an ash tree crashed to the ground. When Bill went to clear the debris and cut up the branch, he noticed a few bees buzzing around. Further investigation revealed a honeycomb in the hollow of the branch and an awful lot of bees. The chainsaw was quickly put back in the shed and the branch was been left in situ as we waited to see what happened to the bees. After a few days of wind and rain there were several dead bees scattered about but the main mass was sheltering under the honeycomb. We were told that if the queen bee is still there, the workers will huddle around her to keep her warm and if they’re left too exposed and cold they will gradually die off. There are still several bees in the branch today (you can just about make them out in the darkness on the right*), so for the time being we’ll leave them and the branch alone.

Hay barn at slamseys

Slamseys Hay Barn

Every time the fields start to dry out there is talk of starting the spring land work but then it rains and makes them wet again so there has been a great deal of building work and maintenance. Most recently some of the twentieth century repairs to the old Essex barn have been stripped out, which has completely changed the look of the barn.

The sun is shining today, so with luck the primroses will soon be flowering and the tractors will be able to get onto the fields.



*This was the best shot I could get without disturbing the bees

Little Forest field in the snow

On The Farm in January

Yesterday the meteorologists forecast snow and wind. The media got over excited and our local news was filled with photos of gritting lorries and dire warnings of ice and tidal surges.


Slamseys Farm drive


In the evening we had a light covering of snow.


snow on Slamseys Christmas trees

frozen puddles


Not enough to cause disruption but enough to make the farm look pretty this morning with snow dusted fields and patterned ice filling the puddles.


dovecote in the snow


Today is grey and overcast with flurries of snow and everyone wants to find a job inside to escape the icy north west wind. I may just be able to keep them employed for a while.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

open gateway

on the farm in June



In June the farm seems filled with every shade of green from the yellowing green of grass seed heads to the dark green of shady oak tree branches. We’re poised at the point just before hot summer days dry out the grass and bleach the fields of wheat to dusty yellows.

tank and hosepipe

The grass grows tall in neglected corners.

bottles tucked into wall

While clearing a shed we ask why it seems obligatory for every old farm shed to have bottles and jars on a shelf or tucked into a hole in the wall

date and initials on wall

and to wonder who FG was and what they were doing in the shed in 1884.

rusting paint

Peeling paint on metal reveals the colours underneath.

As Bill filled his sprayer from the water tank the other day, a small rust hole in the water tank finally gave out and as water spurted from the tank it was a race to fill the sprayer before the tank emptied. One slightly frantic phone call later and I was crouched down, finger pressed against the hole feeling like the Dutch boy who saved his country by sticking his finger in the dyke. Believe me, it takes quite a while to fill a 3200 litre sprayer and the hole was inconveniently low. Such is the lot of the farmer’s wife.


under the trees

In June, there’s time to sit under trees and enjoy the sunshine.

It feels as if summer is truly here.




today …

The good and the not so good on the farm today. But mainly good.

fox in great forest

Look carefully and you can make out a vixen staring back at me, while just around the corner two fox cubs frolicked together. Lovely to see when they’re miles from home, but rather less welcome when they’re close to the yard and my hens.

wild rose in Great Forest field

Wild roses cascade from the hedgerow, reminding me of Alexandra Rose Day at school when pupils would raise money by holding competitions such as “guess the weight of the cake”

wild rose

and we’d pin a paper rose just like this on our blazer.

duck sitting on nest

Two of my ducks are sitting on eggs. This duck is amongst the stinging nettles in a nest made of down and feathers and every time she leaves to take a dip in the pond, she carefully covers up her eggs. The other duck is in the duck house, where she’s piled up a tower of straw and shredded paper that she sits atop. This morning I found two eggs moved from one of the nests, lying in the duck pen. One had been holed and the contents eaten, the other smashed to reveal a half formed duckling. Crow or rat?

nest containing blackbird eggsAn abandoned blackbird’s nest wedged between a rose bush and the wall of the house.

building an earth bundBuilding up an earth bund around the yard

new gateand installing a new gate to increase security and keep out unwelcome night-time visitors.

ox eye daisiesA sea of ox-eye daisies in the corner of one of the grass paddocks.

Best of all, the sun is shining!