Farmer Focus: Neighbours unite to fight hare coursing

Well, the land drains are well and truly running now, we’ve had 84mm of rain since Christmas Eve and everywhere is looking damp.

Luckily, we are up to date with land work, so other than letting a few puddles off, everything is staying in the shed.

Things will soon need to dry up before we even consider top dressing oilseed rape in early February.

See also: Hare coursing: What you need to know if your farm is targeted

During the Christmas period we were broken into, but luckily nothing was taken.

We also had a visit from some hare coursers driving across our fields yet again and some more fly-tipping. It feels like a constant struggle against crime.

One of our neighbours has had the brilliant idea of setting up a local WhatsApp group for farmers and land owners to notify each other of these events so we can all warn each other pretty much instantly.

Increasing production

Another 6ha of elders have been planted in some pretty awful conditions. Normally, we would plant grass first and then plant in to the grass, but this year we just didn’t seem to get time.

Luckily, our drinks business is thriving, so the pressure is on the farm to produce more and more every year.

We plant 1m tall grafted whips and then prune the tops out to make bushes.

It usually takes at least three years to reach a size where we get a reasonable amount of flowers, so careful planning is required to bring these on in time.

Happily, Santa visited the Challen household and brought me an array of edible and drinkable gifts, which I’m very grateful for.

However, the prize for best novelty present goes to my new stainless steel self-stirring mug.

Those of you that know me know just how much I like my creature comforts in my tractor – so much so that the first thing I had fitted to my new one was a power inverter to run a kettle.

I have numerous cups of tea and coffee a day so the ability to shave precious seconds off my stoppage time from not having to stir will only add to the efficiency of my daily output!

Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.

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