Tuesday, 9 November 2010

In Praise of Worms


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Way back when I first moved into this farm, the sort of rain we had today would have led to an amazing amount of runoff from my cereal field that would flood the pump house area, which is what I was tying to photograph in the following out-of-focus shot.

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I also noticed when I came to plough the cereal field that there were practically no worms present even though the soil was still moist and cool unlike the pump house area where the worms took on giant status.


The lack of worms was why I decided to continue using a mineral based organic fertiliser on the field even though I realised quite quickly that it wasn’t feasible for me to be fully organic on the farm.  The difference it has made is now becoming apparent; when I walk across the field there are worm casts.  Not lots, but at least one every step.  The improvement to the soil structure is even more apparent in the following photograph.

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This was taken today after heavy persistent rain.  There is no runoff from the field; the rain is able to soak into the ground far more easily than before and I put that down to the humble earthworm encouraged back into the soil by the mineral based fertiliser.

As it has been raining heavily and the wind has been gusting strongly I finally got round to doing something about the ‘window’ in the back storeroom.  Window is in quotes because it’s actually a hole in the wall covered by a shutter.

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The shutter is old, the planks it is made from don’t butt up against each other and there is a gap all round between the wall and the shutter.  Needless to say, it is on the windward side of the building and the wind howls through the storeroom.  I am aiming eventually to put in a proper window but the current hole is a non-standard window size, (like most of the windows in this place) so until I’m ready to enlarge the hole, all it is going to get is a temporary measure.

I tried polythene over the shutter last year which survived until the first gust of wind so this year I’m going for something a bit more sophisticated!  It may not be pretty but I’m hoping once I seal the outer frame to the wall, when it finally stops raining, that it will stay in place and cut the draught.

The acrylic is fixed to the front frame and if I want to bolt the shutter again I can unscrew the front frame without having to remove the outer frame.

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It will be interesting to see how well this does against the winter storms and also how much difference it makes to the temperature in the storerooms.