So this is what I encountered at 9 am last Saturday morning…

Does what it says on the tin

Exciting stuff! We delivered a swarm caught by a CropShare volunteer to the farm today. They’ll pollinate crops on the farm like broad beans and apples, and of course produce gorgeous honey.

This season’s beekeeping fashion must-haves

After getting kitted out in the safety garb, we took the bees to their luxury bespoke accommodation made out of reclaimed pallet wood by Farmer Paul. Can’t get enough of those pallets!

Dave opens up the empty hive ready for the new bees to go in 

Ahem…..Dave did all the hard work whilst I supervised and videoed, essential work! Video of Dave doing the transfer of frames up soon. He put 3 frames crawling with bees into the bottom section of the hive that holds the eggs, or brood, then put the metal grill Queen excluder on top of that, followed by another box of empty frames. These lovely bees will then hopefully make honey in the uppermost box of the hive, but we’ll leave them to their honey this year so they can recuperate.

If you’re into bees check out the local Cambridge Beekeeping Association, and also our good friends at the Cambridge Sustainability Centre who run beekeeping courses.

Make sure the scythe is sharp!

 Next on the list of jobs was a spot of scything. There is about 3 acres of tall rye on the farm; a green manure sown last year and left to go to seed. We decided on scything as the best way to harvest the seed from this small area to save for future use. We’re going to be testing if it’s good enough to eat as well….fingers crossed and watch this space for local rye bread!

Thanks to this youtube video for giving us inspiration!

Scything was hard work, I’ll be honest with you I was not the speediest of scythers… Crops are normally scythed green, but we missed the boat and our crop is already ripe and the straw was yellow. That straw is tough stuff and we kept having to stop and sharpen our scythes. Never defeated, hardy CropShare volunteers worked well through the crop in two shifts and managed to get through about 450 square metres of the crop. Massive pat on the back guys!

Ripe rye stalks and ears

Rye grains rubbed free of ear

The tall rye was scythed and fell into windrows, which we then bundled up, tying with string. The bundles were then leant together in stooks in the field- ready for us to collect the grains next time!

First row gets scythed!

Scthing crop into windrows next to row already put into stooks
Stooking brilliant work guys!

A bit of old-time farming was a lot of fun today. Hard work though- more scything to do next time.

Then to a well-deserved lunchbreak. Have I mentioned before that lunch is the highlight of my CropShare day? Best bits today were a massive quiche, fresh garlicky salad potatoes, and tasty flapjack!

Colourful lunch as always!

CropSharers dining al fresco 

We turned our attention to the onion, fennel and leek crops in the afternoon, hitting the weeds from all sides with hand weeding, hoeing and having a go on the lay down weeder. Bam! And the weeds are gone.

Hoeing onions

Weeding fennel

Onions bulking up now
Amonst the feathery fennel and vibrant lettuces
Hoeing onions
Team weeding onions on flatbed weeder

Thanks to all volunteers for a great day, and especially to Dave for bringing bees and a scythe!