Thick hedges are home to a huge variety and quantity of wildlife

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Thick hedges are home to a huge variety and quantity of wildlife
Wildlife verge planting on Ruth Kimber’s farm.

The long-awaited rain has given us to date three-quarters of an inch – well, it’s a start!
Calving season has started – modern breeding has massively reduced problems at delivery time. Rarely does a cow need help and then it’s usually if there is a breach presentation, or maybe twins, both rare. However, the farm is vigilant and the cows are monitored closely.

The farm has grown extra wildflower areas – the new one this year was planted with a different mix and has delivered a riot of flowers throughout the season, and the birds and bees and so on certainly appreciated it.

As we have lovely ancient hedges on the farm, we also have lots of wildflowers on the banks/base of the hedges stream and ditches. The animals also use this resource to self-medicate. Trimming hedges is done this time of year, but only on a pre-set-out programme. Not every hedge will be trimmed each year – this allows certain species to complete their two-year cycles. Thick hedges are home to a huge variety and quantity of wildlife, providing vast habitats for insects, birds, mammals and plants, all alongside food production.

Each year I promise myself I will make a list of the wildflowers on the farm and nearby lanes, but again I have failed. We have so many I usually give up as the cow parsley engulfs the verges, one of my favourites. Now we have lots of Old Man’s Beard adorning the lanes with elderberries hanging heavy with rich dark berries. Is this abundance of berries a preparation for a hard winter?

The cost of food production is eye-watering and although the price of milk has risen, the outcome on the bottom line remains challenging. Energy in its various forms has massive effects on all we do.

We listen with interest to what the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, will do about the cost of energy and inflation in general.

She held Agriculture as part of her remit when Secretary of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Let’s hope she uses her knowledge of agricultural matters and takes home production, food security and a balanced approach on land use for food and wildlife seriously and boldly to protect and deliver on all fronts. Home food production should be at the top of the page and farming should not be used as a disposable industry when making international trade deals.

Food has been too cheap for too long and there has been a lack of education to help families produce wholesome balanced meals from scratch. Some 30-40 per cent of food is still wasted. The old habit of our mothers and fathers was roast on Sunday, cold on Monday, pie or curry with the left-overs on Tuesday – no waste was allowed.

The use of insulation in our homes, not only the roof and walls, but windows and doors, interlined curtains and draft excluders can hold in the heat and keep out the cold. Also, the choice of our clothes on our bodies – layers of clothing, including wool, really makes a difference. I often say, when talking about the subject, ‘sheep don’t shiver’!
Kimbers Farm Shop, The Kitchen at Kimbers & Somerset Trading Barn, Linley Farm, Charlton Musgrove BA9 8HD. Open Tuesday-Friday 8.30am-5pm, Saturday 9.30am-4pm. www.kimbersfarmshop.co.uk; phone 01963 33177; info@kimbersfarmshop.co.uk

by Ruth Kimber.

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