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Hi everyone, my name is Paul and I am a farmer from North Yorkshire. Through this blog I will let you know what we are up to each month on the farm and then try to explain how we produce the food that you eat, and how things vary throughout the year.

Picture of oil seed rapeI am 27 and left agricultural college 5 years ago to become a partner in our family farm. We farm 650 acres of mixed arable and grassland, producing wheat, barley and oil seed rape. We also have pigs, sheep and cattle.

July and August are very busy months in the farming calendar as this is when the majority of our combining (collecting the crops from the field using a large machine) is done. As there is an overlap in what we do I have included both months in this August blog. This year has been particularly interesting because of all the wet weather we had in July. However we were lucky compared to a lot of farmers in other areas who suffered major flooding because of the heavy rain. This resulted in some farmers losing quality from their crops, in the worst circumstances they lost whole crops which may have been their only income for this year.

Once the rain had stopped we were able to start combining. The winter barley was the first of our crops to be harvested and this is grown specifically for animal feed. Other farmers grow varieties of barley that is suitable for malting but we do not aim for this market. We use some of our barley to make food to feed our own cattle on the farm, the rest is sold either to local farmers or feed suppliers who use it to make food to feed pigs and poultry.

Once we had finished harvesting the barley, the oilseed rape was ready to be harvested. Oilseed rape is known from when it flowers, where you will see bright yellow fields. These fields are particularly known to hay fever sufferers as the pollen from the flowers can cause major suffering. The oil from our rape is used to produce cling-film and supermarket carrier bags. Oil from other types of oilseed rape can be used for vegetable oil for human consumption.

Picture of different types of breadAlso harvested this month was our spring barley and winter wheat. The spring barley is grown specifically as a seed crop for other farmers to sow next spring and should then go for malting (turning into beer, whisky and vinegar). Our winter wheat is either grown for milling (to make into flour for bread) or for feeding back to the animals. The wheat goes through special tests to see if it is good enough quality for use by the millers, thankfully nearly all of ours intended for milling is of good enough quality and will leave the farm in the autumn to go for this. The rest of the wheat will be sold to a local animal feed mill to be made into animal feed.

Last of all in August we were sowing our Oilseed Rape. This is for the same purpose as when we combined earlier in the month, but we are growing a new variety this year so we are hoping it will do even better.

That is it for this month, see you next month.

Surrey County Council
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