Clusters and Combines.

We are part of a cluster. It sounds interesting I know and conjures up all sorts of images as to what we could be getting up to. The Christmas Common Cluster is a group of farmers and landowners who have got together to work on environmental projects in our area. By working collectively, as well as on our own projects, we can deliver more for the environment. Cluster groups led by a conservation advisor, look at the local area and approach environmental work on a landscape scale. We are based in and around the Chilterns and look at projects that are more specific to our area rather than a national strategy or farm scale. Bear in mind, flora and fauna in particular know no boundaries.  Working with the Bisham Barn Owl Group and the Bisham Nest Box Group we have erected boxes for Barn, Tawny and Little Owls as well as a Kestrel on some of our farms.  Those taking part have all received a box specific to one type of owl. The one shown above is ours and is for a Little Owl, which we have been hearing call for the last couple of springs and seen about on the farm. As their population is in decline, it seemed a good opportunity to try and see if we could encourage it to breed here. Let’s hope we are successful. I look forward to many more collaborative projects in the future.

Harvest is still a long way off here, but the picture above of our old combine now in South America is quiet a sight. We lease hire our combine on a 4-5 year contract from John Deere. The Jolly Green Giant as we nicknamed it, left our farm in the autumn and thanks to the team at Farol Ltd, our local dealer, is now working on the other side of the world. I know Farol service engineers always go the extra mile to help us, but I doubt they will be looking after the one above. Our new combine is due to turn up here later this week. It will be out and about during July and August. Meanwhile, we get on with our winter jobs and look forward to spring arriving, the ground drying out and getting back to looking after the crops which will help provide food for all of us next year.

4 thoughts on “Clusters and Combines.

  1. Interesting, Simon, we hear an owl most nights, at the edges of Mays Meadow, but I don’t know how to identify the species.

    Your picture of the nesting box raises another question, though, Simon. What is your view about the ivy growing up the oak trees on the estate (like the one in your picture)? I have to say that I think it spoils the ‘natural’ beauty of the oak trees – which are such a feature of this area. I would also have imagined the ivy would reduce the water getting to the oak’s roots, but I have heard it claimed that this is not the case. And I think I’ve heard someone defending the ivy because it encourages insects/birds. What’s your view?

  2. Sorry Richard just realised I did not fully answer your question. Yes the Ivy does produce both shelter and food for insects and birds so has a role to play. You just need to make sure it does not reach the crown of time tree as that is when the tree starts to struggle. The Ivy we have cut on a rotational basis takes a longtime to show signs of dying back. At this time of year food and shelter are more difficult to find. Simon

  3. That’s a good link, thanks. Definitely a Tawny Owl based that recording (very different from the other species calls they have on the site).

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