It has been a very dry April, with temperatures above average, yet the farmers and growers in Jersey have been taking advantage of the weather. Lambs have been born, fields have been planted, the grass is growing and the milk has been plentiful.
Social distancing has temporarily meant I have not had the chance to get out and meet the farmers and growers personally this spring, but that doesn't mean to say that its all been quiet.
Infact having spoken to many farmers, who are colleagues and friends in the business, the general consensus is its been going very well.
The season, according to many in the farming community had its challenges early on this year. After a lot or rain in February, and a cold north easterly wind that followed (which challenged the potatoes growth, and even when under polythene knocked the heads of some of the crops), it has meant the planting and lifting season is about 3-4 weeks behind where it should be. It meant that the yield was light at the start of the season of Jersey Royals, according to William Church, from the Jersey Royal Company. However, William is optimistic
And indeed, it does not seem to have affected the locals appetite with many taking walks in the country side and stopping off to purchase a few items from the honesty boxes located around the islands lanes. According to Peter Le Maistre of Master Farms, sales at honesty boxes across the island of Jersey have been very good, but with the delayed planting and lifting, it does mean they will be late to the shelves in the UK.
Interestingly in Jersey, the low lying areas in Grouville are now, only finally being planted as the ground is not saturated anymore, whereas to the west of the island, planting has finished.
Potatoes may have had a tricky start, but other crop growers say, the good weather in the last month has boosted asparagus, and courgettes, and lettuces which are being planted.
Speaking to David Leng, a dairy farmer, he agrees that the season has had challenges, but his farm are keeping very busy. He told me the wet start to the year meant the grass wasn't of great quality, but the grass growth is catching up, and the milk quota from from the cows is superb. Whilst the weather has been fine this April, the first cuts of grass are being taken, and they are making silage in order to keep one step ahead. They are also able to get the young cows out enjoying the sunshine rather than being kept inside.
David went on to say that despite the fact many local outlets are not open (cafes and restaurants), people are clearing drinking a lot of tea and coffee at home, so demand for milk locally is still good.
One thing I have really missed is a cuddle with a new born lamb! Each year I manage to see one of the lambs at Grantez, thanks to John Le Maistre, but this year, just as we had planned a trip, social distancing was introduced, and the news filled our programmes. The lambs I hoped to meet would now been quite grown up, but little lambs around the island are still being born!
Lambing has been good this year, and at Samares Manor, six lambs, four boys and two girls, have been born in the last two weeks.
Gillie Obbard has been rearing these much loved pet sheep, who have their own shed (or Palace as Gillie likes to call it), next to an apple orchard, and they have spend those two weeks enjoying the warm temperatures and roaming around the spacious grounds.
The darker ones with black faces are girls called Nutty and Ella (Nut-Ella) their mum is Bella.
There have been two further additions to the Obbard clan: Smoky and Jo ( mum is Clementine) who are twin brothers and Gary and Snowy who are also brothers (their mum is Willimina).
Gillie says she also has two other sheep Buddy and Wally.
So all seems to have gone reasonably well this April. I have missed the contact with my farming community friends around the island, but I'm really happy to know the season has not been too much of a challenge and I can't wait to catch up with everyone when the opportunity presents itself. To all my colleagues out there - stay safe and thank you for all you continue to do for us as an island.
And for those of you wanting to help farmers and growers by purchasing local "hedge Veg", there is a useful Facebook page which shows the location of the honesty boxes around the island; and you can tap into your local one for fresh produce!
Visit: The Jersey Honesty Box Page (Hedge row produce) on facebook!