Ferme du Vieux Chêne

It’s deep into winter now on the farm as we move into the last week of December. The days have really drawn in with the Sun only getting above the horizon around 08:30 and setting around 16:30. We’re getting snow showers but it isn’t settling.

I had close on €80k in the bank by mid-December and that will allow me to prepare my own field for next spring. The first job was the ploughing so I hooked up the Agro-Masz…

The act of ploughing brings a lot of large stones to the surface. These can damage your equipment. I remember one morning on my Mother-In-Law’s farm in Zimbabwe, the tractor driver was ploughing one of the fields and a rock broke off one of the plough blades. Ma was very annoyed with him – he should have spotted the rock and stopped the tractor, then summoned help to manually remove it. He’d thought it would just be pushed aside and it would be alright but sometimes the blades get broken off and then the job has to stop until the plough is repaired.

After I had ploughed my field, I droved to the vehicle dealer and hired the cheapest stone-picker they had. Then I lifted the stones…

…I took them down to the stone crusher and got paid the princely sum of €74…

…by which time, it was getting dark. I had two last tasks for the evening. Returning the ‘picker to the dealer and then getting some lime into my spreader ready for the following morning. Then it was time for bed.

First job next morning was to lime the field…

On the map you can see my field (17) coloured to indicate that lime is required. So off I went in the half-light…

You don’t want to be behind the spreader when I’m doing that unless you have full protective gear on! With that job completed, I sought out a ploughing job for a neighbour to put some money back in the bank…

…The field was on the side of the valley and had a steep slope resulting in continuous corrections to the tractor steering to compensate for gravity and the natural pull of the plough. We had another flurry of snow as I worked on this job…

…Another sign that Winter’s chill is on the land. The €4.5K I earned from this job covered for the repair bills for the tractor and plough with around €1000 left over – it feels like I’m living hand to mouth at the moment. And there’s still some work on my field to be done. I’ve ploughed, de-stoned and limed it but that’s only part of the preparation. I will have to cultivate it and that may bring up more stones which I will then have to either pick up or roll into the ground. for now, I’m going to let the lime wash in until early January.

During the dark Winter nights though, I can start planning for next year. Looking at possible crop sowing times and thinking about my best options…

At the moment I’m thinking Oats in early March and then a quick harvest in July. Then a follow-on crop of Wheat or Barley to grow over the following Winter.

It’s a hard grind this farming lark🤨👍


    1. I hope to be continuing with regular updates from la Ferme du Vieux Chêne – not sure there will be much of a story line but hopefully some growth😉

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