May 26th, 2011


Through my open bedroom window last night, I could hear the gentle chit,chit,chit of an irrigator pouring gallons of fake rainfall (an expensive substitute) on the next-door crop of Spring Barley.  I recall the brown dust bowl that is now my garden, and think I have woken up in late summer.  I then remember that I heard the cuckoo yesterday; that I still have vegetable seeds to sow, and …..REWIND!  It is still May and the driest since 1910 and I wouldn’t be either British or in farming if I didn’t like to moan about the weather.

The weather is the hardest challenge in farming; so completely out of our control.  If we could, I am sure we would be up there, above the clouds, spraying them with whatever the stuff is the Americans have instead of just carrying out daily rain-dances and muttering non-American Indian chants like “I wish it would bloody-well rain”.  The actual fact is that we have had 3.5mm since 20th April and on light sandy soils (seriously, our farm tracks are like sandy beaches all year round) our crops would be dust without the intervention of irrigators 24-7.  The heathland is looking tinder-dry too and I have just had a tenant asking for a fire-break near his cottage as he is so worried.

On a brighter note, David, our farm foreman, is making his annual noises about lifting some new potatoes (samples only, of course!)  making us office staff drool at the prospect of those little round tubers dripping with hot butter, sea-salt, and black pepper.  Definitely one of my favourite times in the farming calendar, although this year it will be when I can get drenched in the rain whilst out walking.

 Which reminds me, I hear the Common Spotted Orchid is blooming on the Estate and I must capture its beauty in a photo for next month’s blog.  In the meantime, this photo is of a very frayed and overworked parent (no, not me) of cute Blue Tits who have reared their young in between the walls of the Shepherd’s Hut.


   The young are now sticking their heads out of the hole and starting to look at a whole      new  world that awaits  them.  With their dark coloured band of feathers across their eyes, they look like little bandits.  The Broxtead Grapevine tells me that they have equally greedy cousins nesting in the old blue tractor opposite the Estate Office and also in the garden of Broxtead House.  Any day now the estate Blue Tit population is going to swell quite considerably…..

Being a newish estate resident myself, I am amazed at the variety of birdlife in my garden at Pinetree Cottage.  The main attraction is the ‘free’ food and drink (my hen’s layer pellets and water) but it’s a small price to pay to have such brilliantly coloured feathered lodgers in the shape of Gold Finches and Chaffinches, a cheeky cuckoo who took a bath in the little iron water trough, and a Dunnock who produced three young from my Sage bush right by the front door.  ‘Best Song’ category definitely goes to the Blackbird who sits on my now defunct old TV aerial atop the cottage and “gives it large”  to anyone who cares to listen and the ‘Small but Gutsy” section is won by the Wren whilst sitting on a branch of my uncut log pile.  How does such a small creature produce so much song?  Clearly not down to lung capacity.  “Greediest Bird” category has a clear winner with Mr and Mrs Pheasant.  Could be good with those new potatoes…..?

Welcome to our new website

May 3rd, 2011

Welcome to the new website for the Broxtead Estate. We are delighted to share with you our new look, added features and functionality. Please have a look around and let us know what you think via the “Contact us” page.

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