Chairmans Chat 2020

September

Hello all Country Linkers,

August was a month of two extremes Ė the hottest of days and the wettest of days. Some of the days were unbearably hot from noon until early evening and sleeping was almost impossible with temperatures in the high teens all night. Then towards the end of the month we had torrential rain with the 27th having half the monthís rainfall in just 3 hours.

The early mornings now feel and smell autumnal; the car is damp - windscreen wipers and the heater are needed.

Most farmers here in Wiltshire need about 8-10 days of dry weather to finish the harvest. Winter wheat is in short supply, not because of a poor harvest as reported in the news, but because very little was planted due to the extremely wet conditions in October/November 2019. The wheat crop that we have is excellent with a plump grain/berry, but it needs to be combined now to maintain the quality for milling flour for bread making, etc.

Our Country Link Autumn weekend is postponed until 2021, so we now have 2 weekends to look forward to next year, covid restrictions permitting.

Some of our groups are now meeting for socially distanced walks and meals out, whilst others are partaking in text and online quizzes on zoom.

I heard on the radio the other day that somebody had to do an online speed awareness course on ďZ-O-O-MĒ !!!

Charles Humby - Chairman

If you are reading this and would like to know more about Country Link, please take a look at the programmes section on the website to see what sort of things we get up to. You are welcome to get in touch with your local club directly or use our contact form. If there's no club in your area, you are welcome to join in as a national member.

Country Link looks forward to hearing from you.

August

Hello all Country Linkers,

Incredibly, itís now August, nearly three quarters of 2020 gone and most of us have just been marking time Ė existing, rather than living life to the full.

Itís been a much cooler July than 2019 and generally more windy with, unusually, winds come from a northly direction. On July 25th 2019 temperatures in Cambridge reached 38.7 degrees Celsius, whilst this year only 20 degrees Celsius was achieved on the same date. But July went out on a high achieving 38.7 degrees at Heathrow with very high humidity.

In spite of having a very dry spring and growing season the winter barley yields are good Ė three & three-quarter tons per acre. The oil seed rape yields are better than expected Ė 37 cwts. per acre. The crop has gone off the farm into storage in a controlled cool environment. The oil will be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of margarine.

The straw bales began appearing in the fields during the middle of July acting as brief sculptures in the landscape until the huge flatbed, often articulated lorries come to collect them. Here in Wiltshire, where there is a large amount of arable land much of the straw for the west country dairy farms is transported along our smaller roads until reaching the A303. The kerbsides are strewn with loose straw for many miles and casual observers may wonder whether there will be any straw left on reaching Devon or Cornwall. I hope that everybody is keeping safe and enjoying wearing their masks, especially in this very hot weather!!

Charles Humby - Chairman

July

Hello all Country Linkers,

Unbelievably, we are now half way through the year and have had the hottest days. Most of the cereal crops are looking well here in the south, but we need some more rain to fill out the grain. At work we are preparing for harvest, having had the grain store and drier cleaned out. We are hoping to start combining in mid July, weather permitting. Until then we are busy finishing hay making and silaging as well as helping neighbouring farmers.

Some of us are now meeting a friend to get out walking with, observing social distancing. Itís a good start to begin socialising again, albeit in a small way, and itís good to have somebody to have a chat with other than the dogs.

As most of us have been carrying out DIY jobs at home there has been a huge demand for materials, which now makes it impossible to get hold of some paints and there is a 6 week waiting time. Hopefully with most factories starting up production again things will return to some sort of normality.

Regarding the Country Link Autumn weekend, we have to be guided by GOVERNMENT ADVICE, so cannot give any indication or answers as to whether it will go ahead. As soon as we know we will inform our members through the web pages. Please be patient and keep an eye on the web, but please refrain from phoning the committee members as this will not speed up a decision.

Charles Humby - Chairman

If you are reading this and would like to know more about Country Link, please take a look at the programmes section on the website to see what sort of things we get up to. You are welcome to get in touch with your local club directly or use our contact form. If there's no club in your area, you are welcome to join in as a national member.

Country Link looks forward to hearing from you.

June

Hello all Country Linkers,

Well, what a spring itís been with dry and sunny weather. Although Iíve been working during the week, lockdown has meant that Iíve been able to catch up with all those outstanding jobs needing to be done in both the house and garden during my spare time.

Recently I was mowing grass for silage and was treated to an ariel display of red kites and buzzards fighting for food. There were 7 or 8 birds in total Ė I only wish Iíd been able to get video footage. Although weíre enjoying this particularly hot spring we desperately need rain for both farmers and growers as well as for our gardens. The silage fields are yellow and the corn has come into ear on very short straw and rain is needed to fill out the ears of grain. Straw will be very difficult to come by later on not to mention being expensive. Unfortunately we had some very late frosts here in Wiltshire, which has affected the apple and pear blossom and consequently the setting of the fruit.

Lockdown has had some good outcomes for wildlife, as seen on Spring Watch; the birds along the upper reaches of the Thames are having a bumper time as there is no boating traffic causing a wash which destroys their nests. Also more people than ever have heard the cuckoo and people in towns are hearing the dawn chorus for the first time in years.

As some of us are working from home now it is more important than ever to keep in contact with friends and family either by phone or email, etc. as it is so easy to lose touch with people. After all Country Link is like belonging to a big family.

Although the country has stopped clapping for the NHS on Thursday evenings, we should still keep the wonderful nurses and doctors in mind and be thankful for them every day.

Charles Humby - Chairman

May

Hello all Country Linkers,

Welcome to the May edition and weíre just over 5 weeks in total lockdown with social distancing still in place. Itís really hard for those who live alone or those with health issues, but we must continue to stay safe.

As with others in farming or those in key jobs we are still working, although life is far from normal as we cannot be with our loved ones unless they are from the same household.

We have been fortunate with the lovely sunny weather for most of the time and having been on a long walk over the weekend in the woods I can say that the bluebells are the most vibrant that Iíve ever seen, probably due to the huge amount of rain that we had during the winter and the lovely spring sun. Unfortunately due to ash dieback most of the ash trees in the local woodland have had to be felled, leaving a nasty scar on the landscape, which I hope will, in time be filled with other young trees.

On the farm we have sold all our milling wheat as there is such a demand for flour from the general public. Fairly locally in Dorset, there are two water mills, one in Sturminster Newton, the other in Shaftesbury, which are both busy milling flour, although I still could not buy flour on a recent shopping trip.

Finally, I must say a huge thank you to any members who are front line workers for the NHS and all other key workers keeping the country supplied with food, medical needs and post, etc. We all go outside and applaud you every Thursday.

Charles Humby - Chairman

If you are reading this and would like to know more about Country Link, please take a look at the programmes section on the website to see what sort of things we get up to. You are welcome to get in touch with your local club directly or use our contact form. If there's no club in your area, you are welcome to join in as a national member.

Country Link looks forward to hearing from you.

April

Hello all Country Linkers,

Spring is now here with the clocks going forward at the weekend and what a strange Spring it is. Every morning I wake up and think that this current situation has just been a bad dream Ė then reality hits me and I realise that the social distancing and self isolation is really happening and that Iím on my own and cannot meet any friends or go on group walks or trips.

We must count ourselves fortunate as most of us live in areas where we can still get out for decent walks with people we live with or our dogs. Whilst out walking last week in the beautiful, warm sunshine I noticed the lovely smell of newly cut grass and saw the woodland flowers Ė primroses, wood anemones, wood violets, celandine and the very tiny flowers of wild strawberries.

This week the weather has changed to very cold with northerly winds ďblackthorn winterĒ which usually happens when British Summer Time begins.

After all the very wet weather we are able to get onto the fields at last and on the farm I have been working down the ground ready for drilling the spring crops. Iíve noticed that the soil has capped on the top, but is still very wet underneath.

Due to Coronavirus our Spring weekend in Buxton has been postponed until 2021 and will now take place on April 30th to May 2nd 2021. All the deposits are safe and will be kept by the hotel so that our booking is secured for next year.

Due to the current situation we all need to take extra care and hope that we all keep well and safe. During our enforced isolation maybe we can think of some new ideas for walks and trips when we eventually get back to normality.

Charles Humby - Chairman

March

Hello all Country Linkers,

Having just experienced the wettest February on record, we are hoping that the weather forecasters are correct that March will be a drier month. For those of us who work outside February has been a nasty, cold and wet month and we've been glad to get home in the warm and dry to concentrate on indoor chores. The farmers who are fortunate enough to work on slightly lighter and drier land have been able to get on with chain harrowing and ploughing up corn stubbles.

Whilst out walking today, Sunday, 1st March, at Kingston Lacey in Dorset, we've enjoyed wonderful displays of daffodils, primroses, blue and white scillas and very early camelias.

Now is the time to get your nominations in for the National Committee members. Please send them to either Liz, the National Secretary or myself, the National Chairman. These need to be in by 20th March at the latest. If your Group Organiser's name or email contacts have changed, please, please let us know.

Charles Humby - Chairman

If you are reading this and would like to know more about Country Link, please take a look at the programmes section on the website to see what sort of things we get up to. You are welcome to get in touch with your local club directly or use our contact form. If there's no club in your area, you are welcome to join in as a national member.

Country Link looks forward to hearing from you.

February

Hello all Country Linkers,

Well, February is here with the evenings drawing out and on a bright day, it is still light at 5pm. The harbingers of spring, the snowdrops and yellow aconites, are all in full bloom making our walks much more colourful. Daffodils are also blooming a full month early, a sign of global warming.

Our Wiltshire and East Somerset groups got together during a beautiful late afternoon in early January for a trip to the Somerset Levels to see the starling murmurations. What an incredible sight with hundreds of thousands of starlings flying in over the levels with different flocks merging together to make remarkable shapes and patterns in the evening sky. When the starlings eventually go to roost in the reed beds they turn the usual light brown colour of the reeds completely black.

If any of you are visiting other areas for a weekend away or are on holiday please be aware that you are perfectly entitled to visit other groups and join in with their activities. The only stipulation is that you contact the group organiser to say that you would like to join them.

As a result of the extremely wet field conditions this winter some farmers have not yet been able to get onto their land to plant their winter wheat. Hopefully, they will be able to drill before the end of the month or the crop will be unprofitable. If that happens then an alternative crop will have to be planted, i.e. spring barley, oats, peas or linseed. Now, most farmers should be ploughing and preparing the land for drilling the spring crops.

Finally, if any of you have not yet paid your annual subscription, please let your group organiser have the money as soon as possible, so that Lesley, our Treasurer, can balance the books.

Charles Humby - Chairman

January

Hello all Country Linkers,

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year. I hope that you all had an enjoyable Christmas. December was a busy time for us with many meals out. Some of us joined the Cornwall group for their Christmas celebrations at the Pentire Head Hotel. An enjoyable weekend was had by us with the added bonus of dry weather with bright blue skies and plenty of sunshine, despite very windy conditions. Valda's partner, Martin took us on a cliff walk above the Fistral beach on Sunday morning, again in very high winds and managed to bring us all back to the hotel safely without losing anybody over the cliff edge, although one chaps hat did blow away. Thank you to Valda and Martin for organising a lovely weekend.

Here in Wiltshire we always have a post-Christmas celebratory meal as it breaks up a usually dull and empty time. We are looking forward to welcoming members from both Wiltshire and Somerset to our meal next Saturday, 11th January.

It was good to have a drier time for about a week just before Christmas to give the ground a chance to dry out a bit as everything is definitely well-watered!! I heard in the news that some farmers in Shropshire had to use 3 tractors to pull root harvesters to get mainly carrots out of the ground to cater for the heavy demand from the supermarkets just before Christmas. Unfortunately, this has caused soil compaction with resulting plough pans, which will ultimately reduce yields as the soil structure is ruined. Such is the greed of some supermarkets with complete disregard for nature.

Yesterday we were travelling in Somerset and saw the first signs of spring-daffodils were blooming on January 4th!!

Now that January is here it's time to plan our future events and look forward to booking holidays, not forgetting our May weekend in Derbyshire, details of which are on the website.

Charles Humby - Chairman

If you are reading this and would like to know more about Country Link, please take a look at the programmes section on the website to see what sort of things we get up to. You are welcome to get in touch with your local club directly or use our contact form. If there's no club in your area, you are welcome to join in as a national member.

Country Link looks forward to hearing from you.

Archive

Older Chairman's Chat 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016