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Gaddesden Estate News November 2021

This is the first estate news for a few months, mainly because there was little to say about harvest, which was much delayed. This year has been difficult. With a cold and damp August, harvest can best be described as “catchy”. In the end we were able to get all the crops harvested beginning with the spring barley on 20th August and concluding with the linseed on 17th September.

Shortage of transport affecting collection of sold grain and delivery of inputs for autumn drilling, closure of fertilizer plants making fertilizer in short supply and expensive. However, with a kind September and October we have been able to get all the planned autumn drilling of wheat and oats done for the 2022 crop.
As reported on earlier occasions, we have a block of fields which we hope to convert to organic production, having been sown with a ley of clovers and ryegrass. This was grazed heavily with sheep over the summer, though we still had to do a lot of topping to prevent the ryegrass and black grass seed heads developing.

In one field, Great Almonds, we have experimented with a new form of growing wheat which involves hiring specialist machinery to drill the seeds into strips within the clover/grass ley, using satellite technology. The ley will then be mown, again with a specialized machine to prevent the ley smothering the crop. The idea is for the natural nitrogen fixing ability of the clovers (like all legumes or pulse crops) will fertilize the wheat. Let’s see how it goes!

As an aside the field name “Great Almonds” has been in use for many years. From old estate maps we can see that it is a corruption of “Harman’s” and the adjoining London Wood used to be called Harman’s Wood. Who Mr Harman was we shall probably never know.

Walkers in High Park Wood will have seen the mulching work, chopping up the stumps and fallen “lop and top” to provide an excellent entry for the next crop of trees to be planted.

Water meadows
We have had several representations about the misuse of the meadows along the River Gade from Great Gaddesden to Water End. On one occasion I was sworn at by a commercial dog walker who had parked her van blocking the gate on the Ladies’ Mile entrance, obstructing my Land-Rover from getting out onto the road! Commercial dog walkers have been a particular problem, often with several vans parked along the fence near the former “Cock and Bottle”. The grazing by Longhorn cattle has marginally eased the situation. However the meadows are not open for public access and are formally closed every year for 36 hours in mid-March. In future the only access to the meadows will be via the public footpaths.

Park and Ride, Ride and horses

The Park and Ride season has come to close, we welcomed lots of new faces throughout the season and was lovely to see familiar faces that visit year after year.

Always a pleasure to put these events together, it wouldn’t be the same without being fed by the amazing Marbled meats, and Brian Findlay’s photography capturing the riders best shot. And not forgetting the RDA that do such a fantastic job at directing, Guiding and keep the riders safe on course all with a smile! We have had wonderful feedback and can’t wait to get back out there next year.
Our Septembers Charity ride for the RDA raised £2281.50 plus the cash donations that were given on the day.

Estate maintenance &c
We have been thankful for some dry days in September and October to finish this year’s external decorating.  It’s been a busy year with installing new boilers, replacing windows, installing new lighting, chimney and roof repairs.  We have a rolling cycle of works to our properties to enable us to keep the properties in good repair.

Thoughts will soon be turning to plan for next year’s works and fingers crossed for no violent storms over the winter period.