A warmer winter without the frosts to kill off the bugs. The countryside was looking very good, but after a normal start, springtime turned out to be a very dry period, with sugar beet seed and spring barley lying dormant for up to a month waiting for rain to germinate the seed. Strange situation with a varied growth but in the end, as has always been the case, everything levelled and the barley seemed to catch up. The sugar beet are yet to be harvested.
The harvest of cereals started slightly early in this region, everything was going smoothly, and then it was a 'stop go' harvest. Quality was very good at the beginning but the rain spoiled things later on. Yields are reported to be around the average for this area. Prices have increased slightly mainly due to the value of the pound being so low. The autumn cultivations are already underway preparing for another cycle in the farming calendar.
From my involvement with F C N (Farming Community Network) come reports of an increase in calls to the helpline (7am. - 11pm.) nationally. There are a variety of reasons, finance, mental illness, loneliness, problems with the Rural payment entitlements and relationships. Sadly these problems are due mainly to isolation.
It will be interesting to know the outcome of 'Brexit'. The majority of farmers voted to leave, so I'm informed, but will the government support the agricultural sector, or will Mr. Gove inflict his own agenda and upset the pattern as he did for the education system? Early signs are not good. Farmers who rely on migrant workers are concerned that they will have to rethink what to grow, especially with vegetable growers who need a flexible labour force.
In June I arranged a farm visit for the Lay workers in the District. A very enjoyable sunny day visiting 5 farms, 4 of which had diversified from conventional farming to increase income and one which has installed an automatic milking system, where the cows visit the station when they wish and everything is recorded on computer, such as time milked, quantities given. And of course they receive their food!
By the time you read this we should be able to sing 'All is safely gathered in, 'ere the winter storms begin' and thank God for another harvest, which He promised in Genesis.
Thank you for your prayers and support.