Our family run farm in Wiltshire has been my home for all my 14 years of life. For as long as I can remember, I have loved anything and everything to do with nature. Four generations of Lovell’s have farmed here, and although the farm is only small, 120 acres, it has an amazing amount of wildlife and wildflowers packed into its margins and barley covered hills.
We live next door to my Grandparent’s on the farm, and my family’s passion for wildlife and farming has shaped my life, with generations before me whose work or hobbies involved different aspects of nature and agriculture, from both my Mum and my Dad’s side of the family.
As a young girl I seemed to always be happiest in a meadow full of wildflowers, snuggled in the grass checking out all the bugs and beasties! Many beautiful memories have been made on the farm, from walking through the barley, with it tickling your fingertips and playing hide and seek in the tramlines, to blackberry picking every autumn, eating more than we brought home with purple stained hands!
But there is always one time of year that that sticks out more than ever in my memories - harvest. The heat, the dust and the barley hales that seem to get stuck everywhere no matter how hard you try to get rid of them! Harvest is a focal point in a farmer’s calendar: the whole year leads towards it. It is the point when they get to see if their hard work has paid off. Over harvest a transformation takes place, changing the landscape from once a golden, sea like moving mass of barley, to an empty, stalky, but still beautiful, stubble field. The plain field makes a great bicycle track, where my siblings and I all learnt to ride our bikes. I love to sit on the bales of straw with our dog and watch the farm machinery roll past, whilst giving a cheery wave to whoever was driving it.
My main job at harvest, other than shaking out occasional broken bales, is to serve the tea and cake! Me, my mum, and my granny take the truck out, loaded up with scrumptious treats and drinks, which are gratefully received by the busy farm workers!
Lockdown has affected life in many ways with not going into School or running around busily to and from evening activities. But in other ways farm life hasn’t changed at all, the animals still need looking after and the barley has kept on growing steadily, unaware of the chaos in the world at present. We have laughed more, and sometimes argued more too! But I feel that the chance to slow down has changed us for the better. It is often too easy to take the farm for granted, and it is in times like these that you really appreciate the space we have. We have had time to watch the seasons change. As spring unfurled into summer, the hedgerows and field margins have come to life, with delicate wildflowers and birds and insects and bats darting in and out of the hedgerows.
We so often seem to get caught up in the fast pace of the world that we forget the little things. In this period of lockdown, we have been able to watch the barley grow inch by inch, and the bird’s nests with their beautiful eggs turn into fluffy chicks, and then fledgling birds. We made a simple pond and watched as water beetles colonised it, and dragonflies began to visit. The birdfeeders also bring us the simple pleasure of watching the birds feasting, and then splashing in the cool water at the edge of the pond. I don’t know if this much nature was always here, or I’m just noticing it all so much more this year.
Before lockdown, I was vaguely aware of the wildlife projects that our family were involved in, but I was so busy with lessons, and homework and clubs, that I didn’t have the time to really understand the details of what was happening right on my doorstep. Walking or cycling round the farm daily, quickly became part of our new lockdown rhythm, and we got into the habit of looking with new eyes at the beauty all around us. We love watching the Corn Buntings fluttering in and out of the barley, and the
Swallows chittering in the barn, and swooping at high speed after insects. We have had the most beautiful walks in the cool of the evening with the sunset turning the barley almost orange as we went rogueing the wild oats out of the crop.
My Dad is involved with the local Wallop Brook Farmers group who are finding ways to look after the environment whilst still producing good crops. One of the projects we have been part of is sowing some rare wildflower seeds in corners of the field. I loved it when Cath Shellswell came to have a look at what was growing here, and she taught me to identify lots more wildflowers and how to do a quadrat survey.
I still love to sit in patches of grass and wildflowers as much as when I was young, and hope I can keep learning more, and that this is just the start of a lifelong love for nature and the world around us!
By Katelin Lovell
Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:
- Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
- Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
- Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.