Mary's Dairy Diary

No two days are the same at Home Farm. The shifting seasons bring a whirl of change: birds arriving, breeding, flying on; flowers in bloom, butterflies everywhere. The falling autumn leaves, the first frost across the fields, the green grasslands grazed down, left fallow and then grazed again.

Mary Quicke, 14th generation guardian of this ancient landscape, shares her thoughts and observations on daily life on the farm in her monthly Dairy Diary – a friendly mix of farming journal and wildlife reportage, with enthusiastic updates on our cheesemaking and the goings on at the farm kitchen – plus the occasional recipe to help you taste the shifting seasons for yourself.

April is when the whole of spring roars into gear.  The sun is in the same place as it is in August, so there's been plenty of light to drive growth.  Up to now, our cool northern ocean has kept the lid on the temperatures, and that has limited what is willing to grow

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Valentine's Day: that's when all the birds pair up, a friend told me.  Certainly, there's a lot of action quietly going on as everything starts to come to life after the dead of winter.  By the beginning of the month, we are halfway to the equinox.  The sun is stronger,

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The depths of winter:  depending on the season, dark, cold and dank, or just dark and dank.  New Year:  the days start to lengthen, on the warmer days you can feel the new growth itching to start. We’ll have snowdrops by the end of the month.  Nature is pregnant

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The year heads to the nadir. Days are dark, the sun wearily just makes it low into the sky, and everything grows weakly.  The remains of the year become detritus and slides back into the soil where it came from - leaves, fruit, all the rich growth of the fields and hedgerows.

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The fallow bucks stop their grunting call of challenge and allure.  There's still plenty sound effects across the landscape: the ravens make their primeval croak.  The young buzzards shout to their former nest-mates, each now finding a territory, and not quite able

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I saw a tawny owl as I was driving home across the farm.  He stood stock still, I braked sharply and he rose majestically and unhurriedly.   A few hundred yards later, I saw a badger diving across the road and further down my lane, a couple of rabbits and

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Leaves hang heavy on trees, fruit hangs heavy in the orchards and in the hedgerows.  The accumulated sun for the whole summer is collected in the abundant life all around.  Birds are fledged. We saw a young buzzard sagely tearing at a rabbit squashed on the road. Easier

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August is harvest time for farmers and wildlife. Warm days and nights barely hint at the chill to come. The accumulated warmth and sunshine ripens in heavy ears of wheat, fruit on the trees, and hedgerows. Hardworking leaves look weary after a season turning sunshine

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Shhhh! Tom sees a buzzard, watching patiently from the post of the washing line below my bedroom window.  He sees our movement and  takes off heavily. He's big, close too. A 5 foot wing span? Surely not, and that's what it looks like.  An elegant little roe buck stands

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Midsummer. Life at its most vivid and rich, the sun high in the sky, the days long, the greens of the trees all converging on high summer mid green. Growth is at its fastest, life at its most fecund, the promise of harvest the richest, high hopes based on the vibrancy

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It always astonishes me, the wild ride of high spring. The leaves on the trees change with dizzying speed. It feels like if I stood still to watch, the landscape would change in from of my eyes, all the myriad greens of new leaves heading towards the mid green of summer. 

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The spring is so lovely, so welcoming, after the long winter.  The wet of early winter and the chill of late winter lingered on.  The warmth and bright sunshine, even if between showers, cheers everyone.  The frog spawn that was laid so early in the warm January, fights

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We haul ourselves out of the long wet winter. Even the field mice tried to come into the buildings, their nests getting soaked. Not great if you are tiny and trying to survive the winter by hibernating.  I weeded my heathers, and disturbed some sleepy bumble bees, bedraggled

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When I was a child, it felt like we always had two good weeks of frost in February. That desiccates diseased leaves, so plants are healthier. The soil structure gets shattered with the frost, giving lovely friable tilth.  And the slugs and slug eggs, bugs and bug eggs

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We've had a mild winter so far, and the weather maps show a different story in the north of the country - wild, wet and cold.  We think we have our local environment under our control, and then Mother Nature gives us a slap.  And January is the dark time when the wildest

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Mary's Dairy Diary December 2015

Short days and long nights, the sun wearily makes it above the horizon... 

Mary's Dairy Diary November 2015

The glorious early autumn is now a golden memory, and the dark days gather...

Mary's Dairy Diary October 2015

October is glorious. The trees are in their autumn party clothes, hedges and orchards dripping with fruit...

Mary's Dairy Diary September 2015

End of summer glorious richness, start of autumn decline.  Rich fruit hangs in the orchards and hedgerows..

Mary's Dairy Diary August 2015

August is when the sun says summer is getting tired and human beings say it's high summer..

Mary's Dairy Diary July 2015

High summer after a cool spring. So far we've had sun and rain about right.  It's been cool for people and good for animals..

Mary's Dairy Diary June 2015

Thriving, glorious June!  The leaves all unfurled, the hedges at their fullest and most flower filled, the young of all creatures fat and thriving..

Mary's Dairy Diary May 2015

This spring seems more beautiful that any spring I remember. The slow build with the cooler weather tantalisingly...

Mary's Dairy Diary April 2015

Wild garlic, bluebells, cow parsley; the fields, the hedges and the woodlands shout, "It's spring"...

Mary's Dairy Diary March 2015

The lingering end of winter, and the hopeful start of spring. The strengthening light of the sun...

Mary's Dairy Diary February 2015

Already the days are noticeably longer, the dark pushed back each morning and each evening...

Mary's Dairy Diary January 2015

Another turn in the great cycle of life. Spring started back in December, when it was so warm...

Mary's Dairy Diary December 2014

It's the depths of the year. The sun just creaks above the horizon. The watery light drives plant life underground...

Mary's Dairy Diary November 2014

Clocks changed last month. In November, we grapple with the newly dark evenings that get darker day by day..

Mary's Dairy Diary October 2014

A golden autumn – will it carry on? 

Mary's Dairy Diary September 2014

The earth moves to the equinox, days and nights of equal length.  The warmth of summer stays in the sea...

Mary's Dairy Diary August 2014

Rich landscapes, full of harvest or the promise of harvest.  Everything is at its most thriving...

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