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On December 6 2013 our marshes succumbed to the great tidal surge which was similar but not quite as deep as the 1953 floods. After buying a digger and carrying out some sea wall repairs we are happy to report that the landscape has come out of it relatively unscathed but the hawthorn and brambles have been hit hard by the salt. An ecologist reported in August that Sticklebacks are back in the dykes and was amazed at the amount of insect life on our marshes. The grass on our marshes has made an amazing recovery.
Marsh harriers nested again in 2014 in the dykes - there may have been one fledged.
Tawny owls and Little owls are evident with occasional sightings of barn owls. Kestrels are resident and have bred on the farm again this year and we have regular sightings of sparrow hawks and buzzards and have noticed hobbys more often this year. Swallows have continued to use the farmyard and at least 2 nests have been successful (one over Cygnet bedroom) and one in the corner between Cygnet and Primrose (with the ensuing faecal evidence) a nightmare for our cleaning brigade! There is a colony of house martins on our own house and we have had breeding pairs of corn buntings, yellow hammers and linnets in several places on the farm. this year due to a combination of allowing our hedges to become thicker and wider and grass and fallow margins round fields giving extra cover and feeding area.
We have identified 3 new butterflies on the farm this year - Common Blue, Clouded Yellow and Brown Argus . It has been a good summer for dragon/damsel flies on hedges near Orwell View Barns.
We have noticed 2 new wild flowers for this farm - Lady's Bedstraw and Musk Mallow
Bats are using the farmyard - both pipistrelle and long eared brown have been identified. Grass snakes and frogs are seen around the farmyard.
So not much to shout about in 2015 - it has been a struggle - the loveliest thing is the wonderful views from our fields looking out across the River Orwell and out to the estuary of the Orwell and beyond to Landguard Point. Its then that you realize that the English countryside looks wonderful coupled with the ever changing skies and water and you realize that you wouldnt want to be anywhere else! So roll on next year, we wait with eager anticipation to see what challenges it will bring!
I seem to have missed 2016. Our farming quadrupled rather suddenly in this year and we were overwhelmed with work and setting new strategies in place.
In 2017 we stopped growing Parsley. We had a sunny, dry spring and for the first time had to irrigate our sugar beet to get it to germinate. It was still dry in the middle of May and then around 22 May we started to get the mixed weather we associate with England. Plants evened themselves out and in the end we had our best crop of sugar beet ever recorded both in yield and sugar content.. Harvest was very early (half our people were still on holiday!) and we started on 9 July, but then just as the schools broke up the heavens started to open and we had to struggle through the showers and eventually finished harvest in the first week of September - in the end quite late. We had a dry easy autumn but this spring (2018) has been completely different from 2017. In fact the exact opposite and at the time of writing we are very behind and have had to abort planting on some fields due to the wet conditions and pinched growing season.