Orchard Report Fourayes Farm: February 2020

At the time of writing we are just edging into February in what has, for the most part, been a mostly mild but wet winter. Our orchards have been waterlogged.

Our new Bramley orchard has been staked and planted and is going to be taller, with two wires going over the top of each row.

Our pruning was delayed at the start by the leaf taking longer to fall. Our pruners need most of the leaf gone so they can see to work.

During the early part of the winter I was off – with post op convalescence for 6 weeks – so I had some catching up to do when I got back.

During the Christmas holiday we had several horses running loose around the place which had escaped from a nearby field. One horse found its way into Phil’s garden, but they were soon captured and moved to the Isle of Sheppey.

After Christmas we had sheep – a group of 7 from a neighbour which were soon rounded up and put back. Then we had 2 young sheep on the farm which avoided every attempt at capture. Finally, with a sheep dog and a quad bike, after 3 hours they were rounded up by the owners. They had been released by careless footpath walkers who left a gate open.

We are hoping for some dry weather now so we can get on with pulverising some prunings and other groundwork.

On the nature front we have not seen many Field Fares this winter due to the mild weather. The rabbit population remains low. Our Buzzards are much in evidence as are Sparrow Hawks and Kestrels. Robins are pairing up – they can be seen around the farm in twos – and I have seen a Cock Pheasant with 14 hens.

Just recently, while walking one of the orchards, a vixen ran out of an unused plastic pipe and ran into the woods. At the same time two large dog foxes came out of cover – they had been waiting for her to come out. She’d been playing hard to get!

All the best from Swailey and all at Fourayes Farm