Bella Hall: Time for a rain dance

I apologise. I’m going to have to mention the weather.

Why does it have to be so extreme? As if the frosts weren’t bad enough, it now hasn’t rained all month. April was also dry.

The cows have gone out to graze but there is very little for them to munch. This will cause problems later when it comes to making grass silage – not one of Dave’s favourite jobs – as it could mean a shortage in the year ahead and could prove costly.

By contrast, the wheat can cope quite well with a certain amount of dry weather although yields will suffer if it’s too prolonged. Worryingly for us, the dry can affect the amount of straw produced. It was similar this time last year and so our stocks are low already.

The lack of moisture could also prove a threat to my maize crop although I am assured that at present it is fine.

We are due to mark out the maize maze next week so it is bound to rain! A benefit of the dry time is that Dave hasn’t had to cut the grass at the site very often. And he has also noticed the large population of moles that had inhabited my picnic and play area seems to have disappeared.

Not content with worrying about moles of the furry variety, Dave has taken to nagging me about a mole on my back (men can nag, too, you know). He was insisting that it was growing.

I had it checked by the doctor who sent me to the hospital and before I knew it they had cut it out, stitched me up and sent me home.

The following week we had a few friends over and got to bed quite late. The next afternoon I was sweeping the floor when I accidently bent down too quickly and felt a sharp, stinging pain in my back.

A trip to A&E was required – the last thing we felt like doing after a late night.

But while at the hospital we discovered the mole they’d removed had been one of the nasty variety. I was lucky however that it was caught early and should cause no further problems.

In between our little hospital excursions, Dave has had several meetings over at Reydon with Adnams’ brewery.

They have done a huge amount of work to reduce their carbon footprint, even producing a carbon-neutral beer (Dave thinks he’s doing his bit for the environment by drinking it and can therefore consume as much of it as he likes. I’m not convinced by this logic).

Their new distribution centre was built opposite our dairy farm and has a “grass” roof which allows it to blend very effectively into the surrounding countryside.

They are also working on installing an anaerobic digester. It will be fed with the waste products from the brewery and convert them into gas to run their vehicles and supply the local area.

The digester apparently needs a good quantity of waste material with a high bacterial content to get it going in the initial stages. They have tested our slurry and dirty water which we hope will fit the bill.

It would be a really good use of this natural by-product and there always seems to be plenty of it.

We had a bit of a shock this week when an area of gorse caught light at St Felix School, next door to our farm, another consequence of the dry weather. The sun apparently caught on some glass and set the landscape ablaze.

The school narrowly avoided damage as the wind fortunately changed direction at the crucial moment. Five fire crews managed to get it under control and stopped it from spreading further.

It would really have added insult to injury if what little grazing we had had gone up in flames. Not to mention the grass roof on the Adnams building.

Oh for a rain, I can feel a dance coming on.

Bella Hall lives on a farm at Metfield on the Norfolk/Suffolk border with husband Dave and their three children, William, Evie and Charlie.

The family farm covers 1500 acres and has 200-plus milking cows.

Bella designs and runs The Southwold Maize Maze during the summer.