On The Farm In April

oilseed rape crop

newly planted Christmas trees

The weather has been good here, with some gloriously sunny days that have dried out the fields so that land work has resumed on the farm. We managed to plant 1400 tiny Christmas trees earlier this week, mathematically agriculturally marked out using a spade, old electric fencing posts and baler twine. Standing only 30 centimetres high, these should be ready for cutting down in 2023, which seems an age away.


Today they’re spreading fertiliser on the fields, which means the teleporter is running backwards and forwards between the barn where the fertiliser is stored and the fields. The fertiliser is delivered in enormous 1 tonne bags that the teleporter picks up and transports to empty into the spreader.

oilseed rape field

The oilseed rape is coming into full flower, which is a wonderful sight for those of us who don’t suffer from hay fever. This old tap standing in the corner of the field is a reminder of when this field was grazed by horses. After the crop has been harvested in early summer, the rapeseed will be sent away for pressing to extract the oil. If you buy a bottle of vegetable oil with a picture of a yellow flower on the label, it’s rapeseed oil. I can’t help thinking that somebody should think of a better name for the crop.

cheese and bacon flan

Packed lunches for tractor drivers call for solid food. I gaze in awe at pictures of bento boxes with their delicate salads and pretty arrangements of fruit but I know that beautiful as they might look in the kitchen, after a few hours bouncing around in a tractor cab, they would look decidedly unappealing. Apart from that, packed lunches destined for the fields need to be eaten with a minimum of fuss, preferably one handed. An old fashioned cheese and bacon flan fits the bill perfectly.

Essex huffer

Huffers are regularly packed into lunch boxes for tractor drivers and also into my rucksack when we’re walking. My family often tease me that I must be glad when we’ve stopped for lunch as my rucksack must be considerably lighter when we’ve taken out the huffers and fruit cake. Cruel. But true.

farm buildings

As the days lengthen and I no longer feel the need to close the shutters and sit in front of the fire in the early evening, it’s good to wander around the farmyard when everybody else  has gone home and enjoy the last of the sunshine for the day.

Even if nothing is growing in the cold soil of the garden, it really does feel as though spring has well and truly arrived.


21 thoughts on “On The Farm In April

  1. That final photo is lovely with the reflections and golden light. Huffers and fruit cake sounds like my kind of lunch 🙂

  2. So glad I’m not a tractor driver/ farmer as packed lunches are so unappealing! Hubby has the same problem when stuck in the fields for the day with warm, sweaty sandwiches and often they get covered in dirt/ oil etc from his dirty hands, dirty tractor cab and dirt filled air! . Lovely of you to deliver some lovely food to the tractor drivers. The huffers and flan look really really good. Your Christmas trees are so cute, major waiting time commitment to reap the benefits but I’m sure its well worth it. My hubbies busy at moment getting fields ready for planting veg and then actually planting.. Later than normal as we have had a lot of wet weather here.

  3. I agree about the rapeseed. Terrible name. In French it’s called colza, which is much nicer.

    I have to say, ‘teleporter’ sounds very Star Trek to me. But I would happily spend a day with a teleporter and a tractor if it meant eating your food.

    1. It’s a pond in front of the buildings. That’s what we call it over here anyway. It’s in the lowest bit of the yard and would have been made to collect all the water for livestock. Now it just looks pretty!

  4. Reading this post, I feel a vicarious sense of achievement — but now I am also as hungry for some good wholesome farm food as if I had done some actual work myself! 🙂

  5. We live in the same universe when it comes to packed lunches Anne. That last photo is just gorgeous with the light shining on those old building. Picture perfect. I agree, rapeseed is a very awkward name. Happy farming!

  6. your last photo – so magical! how beautiful moments like that are.
    slabs of hearty old-fashioned boiled fruitcakes also spring to mind as good, transportable, sustaining work food, washed down with strong tea 🙂

  7. Seven years seems like ages away but sadly it will go in flash…. Interesting to know how long it takes to grow a Christmas tree, anyway.

  8. Yes, we spotted the rape just coming into yellow flower on the South Downs last weekend. I agree the name doesn’t do it any favours but I buy rapeseed oil because it is local, is brilliant for cooking with and makes delicious dressings. Tractor driver’s lunch doesn’t have quite the same ring as a plough man’s lunch but your fare looks fantastic. The beautiful evening light photo proves we have had some sunny days this year, just not enough.

  9. When I read your last post saying the saplings had arrived I naively thought they were for this years shop! Sounds like back breaking work to plant 1400. Gorgeous photo of the sunlight on your buildings.

  10. I had to go to your previous post to find out about Huffers – they sound very good, and that looks like an excellent flan. In Australia we call rape canola, although I have read somewhere that they are variations of the same thing, not exactly the same. Such a lovely photo of the evening light, good to see a farmyard pond!

  11. I was wondering what rapeseed was – thank you for clarifying that. So much work to always do on a farm. I always remember my grandfather working from dawn til dusk making the most of ever minute since his farm was in the northernmost part of Maine…not a very long growing season there and mostly potato farming.

    I live the last photo, the lightening is perfect.

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