CropSharers with the farm’s own MicroLamb

First, let me start off with some quotes from the mind of Farmer Paul (@waterlanderman on twitter) that he posted to his blog

The morning wasn’t too bad, first thing…..Then the sun disappeared completely . The wind got up . I handed out my spare coats to all and sundry to keep their rapidly cooling bodies warm . I then handed out new potato sacks , then old potato sacks and finally some were seen rubbing tractor grease into their increasingly bluing flesh…..

Furniture was then set on fire and Cropsharers warmed up enough to get their muscles moving enough to move the snowdrifts and find the hoes….Eventually as the heavens opened and all were soaked the surviving members of the work party headed to the warmth of the kitchen for tea, scones and a dry down with a warm furry sheep dog .

So this is what he thought happened last CropShare day. I’ll tell you our side of the story and you can decide which version of events to believe! 😉

The gang hoeing onions in the sun

CropSharers got stuck in hoeing the onions (variety- Sturon) we planted this spring as sets. They had put on a lot of growth!

Happy CropSharers hoeing onions

CropSharers then used the planting machine to put in brassica and lettuce plants, this is the same machine we used last time to plant bare root strawberry plants– check out CropSharer Axel’s video of it in action here!

Farmer Paul explains how to use the planting machine

Lettuce plant on the planting machine

Newly planted lettuce

Covering brassicas with netting to protect from birds

Another little project we completed at the farm day was to plant up a little garden near the farmhouse. Thanks to CropSharer Anna for making the farm house pretty, it got the thumbs up from Farmer Doreen!

Farmer Doreen with her new garden

Speaking of Farmer Doreen, today was the day her famous cream scones made their first appearance of 2013 at the CropShare lunch…


So many tasty foods, as always, and we enjoyed eating outside!

Must get a little bit of everything…

CropSharers Al Fresco!

Axel’s Rhubarb and custard cake

CropShare desert greatest hits platter, feat. brownie, rhubarb, scone, flapjack

After lunch we had a very very important job to do, yes that’s right the baby lambs needed stroking.

The farm’s little “MicroLamb” is so friendly and comes up to CropSharers to be fed and stroked. Shes also happy with her mum, who stays close by her with her two bigger brothers. She feeds from her mum when she can get a look in as her brothers shove her about! So shes still bottle fed aswell.

Farmer Paul’s own “MicroLamb”

Farmer Paul is going to keep her on the farm. Now she just needs a name… any sugestions? Email or twitter us at @CamCropShare, or Farmer Paul at @waterlanderman! We need some better ones than this…

The farm’s friendly “MicroLamb”

The farm’s “MicroLamb” gets fed by CropSharer Dave

Point to the cute baby animal game

Squashes grow really well on the farm, and nows the time to start sowing seed. CropSharers sowed seed into modules, that Farmer Paul will look after in the polytunnel untill they are ready to plant outside.

Getting stuff ready for sowing squash seed


What the seeds will grow into

Sowing them seeds

In the polytunnel in case it rains…and it did

Time to check up on a few crops on the farm now…

Broad beans planted last autumn

Broad beans that were planted last autumn by CropSharers are going from strength to strength. The notches on the leaves above are made by a pest insect called pea and bean weevil, here’s the little fella…

So how does Farmer Paul, being organic, control these critters? Now although the nibbled leaves look drastic, the truth is that little damage is done by the weevils. Unless the crops were really slow growing and stressed, they will grow away from damage and the bean harvest will be largely unaffected. The same is true for another bean pest- the black bean aphid, which you might have seen on your beans on your allotment/garden.

While you may be able to do a Bob Flowerdew-type thing and squirt your beans at home with washing up liquid, thats a bit full-on for an acre or so of beans. Instead Farmer Paul relies on natural preadators taking care of the aphid pests. Larvae of ladybirds, lacewings and hoverfly (and some of the adult insects) eat up a lot of black aphids. To encourage these pests you need to provide them with habitat.

And there’s plenty of habitat for these preadators on the farm as theres such a diverse environment. The farm has loads of different crops, permanent grassland, trees and hedges etc etc. and no offence CropSharers and Farmer Paul but there are plenty of weeds also present that preadator insects can make a home on! The farm contains plenty of different species of flowers that the specific preadtor insects prefer to live on. For example hoverfly larvae love to hang out on flat daisy family flowers such as thistles and dandelions and are attracted by mints. And yes there are quite a few of those…

CropSharers hiding in the weeds! 😉

Typical weeds in field margin, with added peacock butterfly on the dandelion!


Corn mint- useful food source for predatory insects

If you’re interested in organic and integrated pest management (who isn’t!!) , then check out The Campaign for the Farmed Environment site, The Soil Association website, The LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) blog, the Growing Green videos with Iain Tolhurst and these cool beetle banks on the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust website.

There’s also good lists of the best plants to encourage these preadator insects here and here.

Broad beans

We also checked in with the new HenShare ladies, they’re loving life on the farm.

New hens looking good!

Look after your new girlfriends mister!

And the garlic, planted last autumn by CropSharers, has really put on a spurt after rabbit damage earlier in the year and looking really green and upright now. So that’s good.

Garlic planted last autumn

It’s true, it did rain in the afternoon so we had to dry off in the farmhouse with plenty of tea. Before the deluge we had time to do some in-field posing…very dynamic…

Messin about hoeing onions

…maybe too dynamic for me.

I am the master of the comedy fall…

On that note, check out our new farm safety page on the blog. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Or is that do as I say not as a do…

Oh yes, and we’re now on Twitter, so come follow us all you Twitterers! Find us here @CamCropShare.

Thanks a lot to Matt and Axel for the photos, and for putting up with me nattering at them to take photos all day. You done good.
See you on the farm again soon!