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chaldean newsletter
Autumn 2019 Newsletter
Welcome to the 2019 Autumn edition of the Chaldean Newsletter. In this issue we feature an article about a recent visit to the estate by local children from Faraway Tree Kindergarten.

Chaldean News

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We were recently contacted by Kristie Chesters who owns and manages Faraway Tree Kindergarten in Much Hadham for children aged from two to five years.  She also runs the ‘Let’s Go Club’.  The Club is a Forest School and the aim is to build a long term connection with the outdoor environment and not just woodland but a range of environments.  The idea being that as the conservationists, agricultural workers, ramblers and outdoor enthusiasts of the future, they can care for the things that they know about.

Activities include exploration, physical play like tree climbing, den building, woodwork and tools, campfire cooking, team building activities and more.

They were looking for permission to do this in a small area of the Estate’s woodland which we were, of course, delighted to agree to.

Here at Chaldean we encourage supervised school excursions to the Estate and anyone interested in arranging this should call the office on 01279 843861.

Pictured above is Kristie along with our Farm Manager’s son who attends the Club.

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Report from Neil Budge, Estate Manager

With winter almost upon us it’s been a stressful time, being unkind to all who struggle working in the element’s, but it’s a wonderful sight to see logs burning on a fire, providing heat to the home.

Here at Chaldean we operate a sustainable log supply business, supplying logs to households, hotels and small businesses. Our logs are fully traceable from the plantation they came from on the estate. The woodland work is supervised by the Forestry Commission who grant felling licences and create plans for natural regeneration to occur.

We do not sell imported wood with its extensive carbon footprint.  It is important to know this information when purchasing logs supplied by large companies.

Around the estate we have been busy with our annual round of hedge trimming and are scheduled to complete this work in the coming weeks. We have noticed an increase in wildlife around the estate since we embarked on a large restoration of hedging and tree plantations. 

There are barn owls who have made the area home for many years at various locations, for example, in a large oak tree and in a nesting box which has been attached to a pole. We intend to provide a few more boxes over the winter months as the number of actual barns over the countryside are disappearing through development into housing or commercial use.

Some interesting facts about the barn owl:-

The barn owl was voted Britain’s favourite farmland bird by the public in an RSPB poll in July 2007. Historically, the barn owl was Britain’s most common owl species, but today only one farm in about 75 can boast a barn owl nest.

Barn owls screech and scream, and they don’t sound anywhere near as attractive as they look. They don’t hoot – that’s tawny owls.  The barn owl makes almost no noise when it flies. This enables it to hear the slightest sounds made by its rodent prey hidden in deep vegetation while the owl is flying up to three metres overhead.  

Their heart-shaped face collects sound in the same way as human ears. A barn owl’s hearing is the most sensitive of any creature tested, and it has ears (hidden beneath feathers) at slightly different heights to help calculate the precise source of tiny noises made by mice.

They are not territorial. Adults live in overlapping home ranges, each one covering approximately 5,000 hectares. In order to live and breed, a pair of barn owls needs to eat around 5,000 prey items a year. These are mainly field voles, wood mice, and common shrews.  However, they will eat some other foods as well. Perhaps most surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for barn owl chicks in the nest to eat each other, which is incredibly rare behaviour in birds. This is only possible because the chicks don’t all hatch at the same time, so some will be significantly bigger than others.

Barn owls are medium-sized predators, averaging about 36cm in length. Their wingspan is usually between 80-95cm, but there’s a lot of variation across their range.  

Barn owls are usually monogamous, staying faithful to their partner until one of them dies. They often use the same nest site every year and have an elaborate courtship ritual to re-establish the pair bond every spring.  Though they are capable of producing three broods of five to seven young each year, most breed only once and produce, on average, only two and a half young. Twenty-nine per cent of nests produce no young at all.

Because they mostly eat small rodents, barn owls are tied to the areas richest in small mammals – their perfect habitat is unimproved grassland. Most people stand a good chance of being able to see one, as they’re one of the most widespread birds in the world so there are probably barn owls somewhere nearby. Your best bet of seeing one is to stake out a vantage point with panoramic views of rough grassland or fen an hour before dusk on a calm evening and sit tight to keep a low profile. Then bide your time.

Captive barn owls have lived for as long as 25 years, which is likely their true lifespan, but most wild barn owls don’t survive more than 10 years. In fact, only a third of them survive long enough to reach breeding age, with predation by larger birds, starvation during lean winters and car collisions all posing a serious challenge to barn owls.  In a typical year, around 3,000 juvenile barn owls are killed on Britain’s roads, which is about a third of all the young that fledge.  Add in modern intensive farming practises that don’t provide much habitat for prey species like mice and voles, and it’s no wonder that their populations have declined so dramatically in recent years.  We can all help barn owls by leaving a patch of rough grassland to grow wild thus creating habitat for voles or by erecting a super-safe barn owl nest box.

Source Discover Wildlife

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Report from Gordon Paice, Farm Manager:

The recent rainfall was much needed and it is only since the middle of November that the land drains have started to run and water has been flowing down the ditches. 

We were able to start drilling the wheat on 11th October although we had planned to do this at the beginning of October. At this point we have managed to complete 50% of the work. We had intended to be finished by now, but beggars can’t be choosers and many other farmers haven’t even managed to get started, let alone be this far along.

Generally the conditions have actually been pretty good when we have been in the field and the first bits of wheat are now well emerged and on their way to next harvest.  

The oil seed rape which has been planted along the northern edge of Bromley Lane has shown a stark contrast between drilling dates - the osr drilled on August 10th is up and away and looks good but the osr drilled on August 20th has failed due to lack of moisture and flea beetle and this will be replaced by peas which will be drilled in the spring.

This autumn we have been busy harvesting our sugar beet crop and getting it delivered into the British Sugar factory at Bury St Edmunds.  We have used the same system as last year of placing the sugar beet along a roadside and loading it straight over the hedge into the waiting wagons.  It takes approximately 6 minutes to load a 30-tonne lorry. 

The sugar beet this year is along Cold Christmas Lane and we have been bringing the empty lorries in from the Thundridge end, queuing them on the A10 flyover.  The loader driver then calls the lorries up one at a time to reduce congestion on the road.  The full lorries then exit down Gore Lane through Barwick village.  The system of loading the trucks alongside the heaps means that we don’t have to back the lorries into field gateways which would cause mess on the highway.  We have cleared 60% of our sugar beet and the remainder should be lifted in December and go to the factory in early January. 

We appreciate that we do cause some traffic disruption, with both the lorries being loaded and travelling down the roads, but we have done our best to minimise this by creating a one way system.

Pictured above is the Maus which cleans and loads the sugar beet into the lorries.

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We are delighted with the take up of containers at our new self-storage facility located at Barwick Farm.  As we predicted, there is obviously quite a need locally for this kind of facility;  70% of the containers have been let to local people who obviously find the location very handy.  A popular use seems to be the storage of outdoor furniture.  Keeping garden chairs, tables, etc in dry storage over the winter will keep it all in good condition until it is needed when the sun comes out again - if it ever does!

For more information visit our website
www.c-storage.co.uk or call 01279 843045.

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The Old Grain Store, Bromley Lane Much Hadham, SG10 6HU t: 01279 843 861
f: 01279 843 275

e: info@chaldean.co.uk


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