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The LaverockHall Farm Blog

Whats going on down on the Farm? Find out here !!

Harvest Home to Pumpkin time

Harvest is almost at an end; the weather over the weekend and continuing today has been fantastic.  We’ve taken full advantage of the dry weather and high temperatures and have finished cutting the oats yesterday and then moved straight on to cutting our fields of Spring Barley.  This should be completed today after a marathon few days but its amazing how much you can complete when you have dry days in succession. Once the contracted combine leaves us to move on to another customer we will clear the fields, bale or chop the straw and then cultivate the land ready to sow next years crops, it all sound so simple and hopefully it will be if the decent weather continues for the next few weeks. On another note, our newest crop is doing well, the pumpkins are ripening and growing ready for ‘Pick Your Own Halloween Pumpkin’ which is a first...
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Its that time of year again

August is well through and we will be starting to harvest soon in what has been the most unusual year for everyone in the country, if not the World.  The weather has been challenging to say the least and our crops will be reflecting that, our oilseed rape crop is almost non existent after the 14 week drought during the growing season which has also contributed to the very short straw on the wheat and barley crops.  On the plus side our newest crop of pumpkins seems to be growing very well as they were planted later, and their growing season is a later one, so the rain arrived in good time to save them. We’re really looking forward to harvesting them in late October ready for all your Halloween pumpkins so please keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates. The birdlife has had an amazing year, I have...
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Nuts about Hazels

Although we are growing thousands of hazel trees in our new woodland eco project, as well as oak, holly, rowan, beech and many more trees it was the hazel trees we were originally determined to plant. Whilst I appreciate that tree growing isn’t a short term hobby and many of the trees we have planted will take more than our lifetimes to look like the forests I had romantically envisaged before planting, I appreciate that some of our trees are looking rather more interesting these days rather than just a few leaves on a stalk inside the protective biodegradable tubing . This clear tubing is used to protect and nurture the baby trees from the elements, and hopefully speed up their growth.Chris planted some hazel trees in some spare rough ground near our house many years ago but these were eaten by deer and died sadly but he had also planted...
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Take Cover from the Crops

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In agriculture, cover crops are plants that are planted to cover the soil rather than for the purpose of being harvested. Cover crops manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem—an ecological system managed and shaped by humans. This is the dictionary definition and I hope to explain a bit further what they are and how we use them on our farm. We have planted a cover crop in place of our failed oilseed rape crops in some of our fields. Many of you will remember during the lockdown I posted photos of what should have been flourishing crops, but they were sadly droughted off, as were many of our crops during the longest ever drought known in this area. It was too late to plant the same crop again so Chris decided on this specific mixture of cover crop and planted...
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Hay! Check this out

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I’ve been trying to find somewhere cool for the last couple of days as the heat has been rather enjoyable, but at times a little too much if you’re trying to work! Its fine if you are on the beach or relaxing but not so much fun in our dusty farmyard.  The dogs have been walked early morning and, in the evening, other than that they have been flopped out in the cool passageway trying to enjoy some cool breeze through the back door. Tonight, we went in the pickup to inspect the new hay crop, yes grass is considered a crop, which the dogs really enjoyed, trying (and failing) to cock their legs on each and every bale in the field! They will be kept away from the pumpkins when they’re ready for picking I can assure you all! Amazingly this year our hay crop was cut and turned, then...
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June's Flying through

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The month of June has seen a definite change in the weather, at last we have had rain although the temperatures have dropped somewhat too. The birds in our garden must have had rather a shock to their systems, although the colder weather has meant that the grass and plants have sprung away, and everything seems to have ‘greened up’ massively.  The fledgling birds have been lining up at our feeders, enjoying the chance to feed themselves along with their mums and dads, I’ve especially enjoyed seeing some of our resident blue tits bringing their new babies to our bird table.  They are lovely little balls of fluff and are so lively and noisy too, I expect their mums and dads are glad that they’re off so they can enjoy some peace until they raise their next brood. We’re not too busy on the farm itself, although crops must be walked...
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    Well, May is almost over and still no rain here on our farm - it’s been thirteen weeks now without any rain of any significance. We have had a couple of showers, but, to be honest, the wind at the time was so strong that it barely hit the ground. My poor little pumpkins for our Pick your Own Pumpkins later in the year are desperately in need of rain, as are all our crops, including the grass for hay for our horses. As well as making bird foods we have been assisting Robyn, our daughter, with her new venture, she’s making soap using oilseed rape from our farm plus some lovely scents and colours too. She’s also making a pure soap with no scent or colour at all, its pure white and has been tested on the whole family without any incidents at all.  The soaps are in...
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Washing your hands just became a business

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    The last few weeks have been an utter whirlwind. People may be beginning to return to a new normal, slowly; however my family bubble are adapting and changing to what could be a new normal for us. The main difference in our ‘normal’ has been the recent focus on the production of environmentally friendly soap – and not of the hand sanitiser variety! For around 2 years now Chris has been discussing how exciting and what a nice project it would be to make our own soaps from the ‘leftover’ oil that we have on the farm. This has always been on the backburner, until our youngest, Robyn (pictured), came home for isolation and sprang into action to use our rapeseed oils!! It has been a real family effort too, Lydia helped Robyn with her first batch, I’ve been helping her with all her marketing (god help me!!) and...
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Lockdown just got spooky

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Another week at home for all of us, although it isn't out of the ordinary for us! From all of us at Laverock Hall, we hope you are coping well and beginning to see the bright side of lockdown. Chris has been waiting with bated breath for a delivery that has arrived this morning, and it has created some palpable excitement within the house (as can be seen from Walter, pictured). This is our first and only delivery of pumpkin seeds from the USA! Walter isn’t too sure yet, however the seed packets themselves became a perfect blanket for his fluffy legs, and I’m certain he’ll enjoy a frolic in a new crop! This year, we are hoping to open a pick your own pumpkins to the public, and the final piece of our puzzle has finally arrived – hurrah!! The next step in the process is just to pray for a...
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Farmsolation Week 5

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No, he’s not praying, but multi-tasking.  We were off on our walk on Easter Sunday, another lovely day during these strangest of times, and Chris decided he needed to check the newly sown crops to see if they had germinated.  I hate to say it, but we could do with a good shower of rain to set them off. This time when it rains, I hope it remembers when to stop, unlike last Autumn/Winter when we seemed to have rain every day from September.  The dogs follow Chris everywhere and only seem to obey me when he’s not around, other than that I’m relegated – they both adore him which I think the picture shows, plus the fact that mobile phones can find you anywhere…. There is no escape! We walked miles and saw lots of wildlife and birdlife too, the hedges are in bloom and nature seems to be carrying...
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Farmsolation Week 4

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This is all becoming second nature to us all now, distancing, and stepping back when someone moves near to us. What a strange situation we are all in, but it seems to work whilst it’s sunny, however I’m not so sure about people being happy to queue for a long time when it is raining or much colder than the lovely temperatures we are experiencing now. Our shop is still open, and our customers have been great waiting outside until they can either come in or pay in the office one person at a time. We have found that the contactless payment has been a godsend to lots of people as handling cash is obviously a concern. Our staff have been wearing gloves, so we are happy to accept either form of payment. The dry weather has enabled Chris and George, plus our contractor who sows the corn, to finish the...
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Farmsolation Week 3

I’m not sure if we are adapting to this ‘staying at home’, or its just become more habit forming. Things seem to have slowed up from the initial panic in our shop and the same on the wholesale side. People are back with their regular orders - although we are seeing a lot of new faces in the shop, plus lots of our older customers are sending other family members or kind neighbours to collect their chicken foods, dog foods etc. I’m so impressed with our customers who are happy to respect the social distancing regulations we have had to put into place in the shop. We can still put items into your cars, but the One-in-One-out rule has been implemented for the safety of our customers and staff too, so thank you all for your patience and humour, too. Its so lovely to know that so many are still feeding...
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Farmsolation Week 2

I think it has been the most bizarre week ever - the shop has been unbelievably busy with people stocking up on dog and chicken foods mainly, but also pigeon and wild bird foods. We have had some laughs among the stressful days, people’s humour has shone through rather than sadness or anger but in these uncertain times its so lovely to see the best of people rather than the worst that has been seen in supermarket queues and fighting over loaves of bread and toilet roll. It is so true that our lives have been turned upside down and will remain so for several weeks or months, especially if the social distancing measures put in place by the Government aren’t adhered to and people continue to crowd to our lovely beaches and countryside. I did mention how sad it is that the coronavirus has invaded our daily lives when the...
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Sadly, there’s not a lot of good news around at the moment and these are certainly worrying times for us all. Sky News is full of scary updates from all over the world as we are caught up in the Coronavirus pandemic with life as we know it being very restricted and many more changes ahead. Working from home or being in isolation from family and friends is challenging and can be very different for the whole family. We have two daughters who usually live away from home because of work they are both at home here on the farm now, along with Chris and me plus George, our son.  Add to the mix our two dogs and cats and that’s a lot of mouths to feed, extra toilet rolls and opportunities for arguments over the smallest things which I’m sure most of you will be familiar with – the pressure...
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Pause for Thought

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Chris & I have been out in the pickup, (with the dogs too obviously) down the fields to feed the hedgerow birds, and we were both remarking on how calm the weather is today & how there might actually be a light at the end of a very long and wet Winter tunnel we have been in since mid-September with all of the wet, windy and extreme conditions we have all endured.While we were on our way down the track Radio 2 ,Pause for Thought was on, a portion of the show where visiting contributors from a variety of faiths have a segment where they talk about life, their faith and everyday life. I listen if I’m in the car usually and today seemed so poignant. The contributor (I don’t know his name) mentioned about how we are all surrounded by nature but lots of us are oblivious or ignore it....
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Are Pigeons the best, or just a bird table pest?

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Do you have pigeons in your life? I think we all do, love them or loathe them we usually see them on a regular basis, either in the park, at your bird table, or maybe you are a fancy pigeon enthusiast or keep racing pigeons. We sell many types of pigeon corns, for the ones on your bird table, in the park or the amazing racing pigeons that are kept like thoroughbred horses ,fed on the best and treated like royalty. Until I joined Chris in the company I had no idea of the technicalities of feeding & looking after racing pigeons ( I still have much to learn), and the lengths the owners go to keep these birds in peak condition with training flights, feeding & worming programmes & even selecting when they breed(and who with!) The pigeons we are talking about can change hands for tens of thousands of...
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On your marks, get set, Birdwatch

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There’s so much flying around now regarding bird watching & The Great British Bird Watch (January 27th-29th), but we do hope that you don’t just watch them on these days! Our British Wild Birds bring such joy to peoples lives who get so much enjoyment out of feeding and watching them that it would be such a shame to only bother for this occasion. I get it that its great to log what you can see in your garden, or wherever you choose to do your birdwatch - in the park , in a wood, or even outside your window at work. Although, here at Laverock Hal, we hope that it’s like a dog isn’t just for Xmas, it’s for life, and so feeding and watching the birds should be a part of your life too, not just for these 2 days! In order to encourage as many birds to count...
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From little acorns

Old Year, New Year, its that interim time when you don’t know what day it is, where you need to be but hopefully enjoy the relaxing time before the New Year gears up and off we all go again. I put some photos of our project on our Facebook page this morning but thought I’d explain a bit more what we’re up to, hence this post. You’ll all remember that we started a woodland and pond project early last year on the farm. It had been in the pipeline for a while, but we got started planting trees and it all started taking shape early last year. I uploaded photos of the little trees on earlier blogs, with their biodegradable covers to protect them, the newly dug pond and the impressive deer fence, which will be taken down once the trees are established, we hope this will be done in about...
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Watch the birdie

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  Some of you might have seen me and Chris in the article in the Newcastle Journal on Saturday, pictured next to our new pond at our newly planted nature reserve.  I put a link there from our Facebook page too, so if you follow us you may already have seen and read all about this. Its great to have some publicity for our new venture and many thanks to Angela who took the photos, and had her photo taken by me (pictured here) and Keith who wrote the article. The pictures were taken on a rather blustery day, and we had to abandon the pickup as the route was so wet and walk rather a long way so rather than thinking I’d look windswept and rather like a Barbour advert, instead I look short and rather bedraggled! The area is coming on so well, we have ordered more trees for...
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Its not about the money

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It never ever was about the money. Those of us born into farming know that making money in farming is never a given, yes you can sometimes make money, but the weather often has other ideas and throws some unbelievable extremes our way. Imagine planting all your crops to be harvested next year, they’re looking good and then it starts to rain, and rain, and rain. That is exactly what has happened this Autumn and its not looking like its going to stop any time soon. “You can always plant again in the Spring, can’t you?” Yes, we can plant again, but imagine the financial toll of buying more seed, ripping up the rotting plants from the Autumn sowing, working the land and then planting again. Its not just about the money, it’s the physical and mental toll it takes on you too. Imagine doing all of this and not knowing...
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