Alder at Vital Veg organic farm Aberdeenshire

Newsletter 12th March 2018

On the Farm

Mud, mud mud!  We are still experiencing the effects of rapid snowmelt, and this is making harvesting a slow and muddy task.  It has reached the welly-eating stage (the soil, not us!). 

Even so, there are real signs of spring.  The buds on the hedgerow plants are swelling and the sky larks are singing twice a day.  If there is anything that raises the spirits, it is the sound of a sky lark in full voice.  They are tiny birds, but just one can fill the whole sky with song.  For those who are not sure what a sky lark sounds like I recommend listening on your computer if you can’t get to a field – or listen to the utterly beautiful classical interpretation by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Lark Ascending).

Sadly sky larks are among the many British native songbirds in decline.  There have been dramatic and rapid falls in the population, linked primarily to modern intensive farming practices.  On our farm we have measures in place to help protect the birds.  We grow five acres of mixed cereals and kales that are not harvested, but instead are left to provide food and shelter for birds over the winter.  We also restrict the times that we roll the grassland (which has to be done to prevent stones that rise up over the winter from damaging the mowers we use to make hay and silage).  By doing so we can be sure to protect eggs of ground-nesting birds, including sky larks.  They enrich our lives and we would be very much poorer without them.