Wattisham Hall is an arable farm of 365 acres. Crops grown include winter wheat, vining peas and oilseed rape. Depending on the time of year you visit us, you may see various farming operations taking place around the farm:
This is a busy time of the year when fields are being ploughed and cultivated ready for the new crop to be sown.
Oilseed Rape is usually sown in Early September and Winter wheat is typically sown between mid September and late October. High horsepower tractors are used to pull the plough and corn drills so that the job can be done at the best possible time for the crop. For more information on crops visit UK Agriculture.
Not much is going on in the fields at this time of year as it is usually too wet and cold, however, work can still be found as the farm is in an environmental scheme called the ‘Countryside Stewardship Scheme’ we have planted over two kilometres of hedgerow since 2003, six kilometres of grass margins have been established to protect watercourses and wildlife from farming operations. We have dredged the 13th Century Moat around Wattisham Hall and restored an old orchard with traditional apples plums and pears.
This is also the time of year when hedgerow coppicing takes place when hedges are cut down to the ground and allowed to grow up from the base again to create a better, more compact hedge. Much of the wood from coppicing is burnt on the barns’ wood burning stoves so nothing is wasted.
Work moves on to caring for the crops in the ground, crops need feeding and protection from pests and diseases, so tractors are busy spreading fertiliser and applying agrochemicals to make sure the crops keep healthy.
This is the busiest time of year, with harvesting of oilseed rape usually starting in mid July. Combines and tractors work very long hours especially when the wheat is ready to combine in August as it is a race against time to get the harvest in while the sun shines!
The farm keeps pigs in the nearby village of Hitcham, they are fattened to the highest welfare standards and monitored by R.S.P.C.A. Vets. We have to follow the Five Freedoms welfare code. Click here for information about the journey of pigs from field to fridge.
A lot of the pork is sold to Waitrose under the ‘Red Tractor’ logo to assure consumers of quality and welfare standards.
We keep hens on the farm in Hitcham, which provide us with free-range eggs of all shapes and sizes. Once you have eaten a free range egg, you never go back!
Wildlife on the Farm
We are very lucky to have water voles on the farm, you may see them in or around the moat and ponds. Water voles are the UK's fastest declining mammal and the risk of further decline due to being mistaken for brown rats will have serious implications for an already vulnerable mammal.
Water voles have disappeared from almost 90 per cent of the sites they occupied in the UK in the last 60 years due to the loss of their riverbank homes and being preyed upon by the non-native American mink.
There are several clear characteristics to distinguish between a water vole and a rat. The water vole has small hidden ears, silky mid-brown fur, a blunt nose and a shorter furry tail, whereas the brown rat has big ears, grey brown fur, a pointed nose and a long, pink and scaly hairless tail.
Deer living in the area can sometimes be spotted grazing on the fields. Two species live in the area: Roe Deer (indigenous to Britain) and Muntjac (a small deer originally from China).
Brown hares are found in the area, a species that has disappeared from some counties in England. During the spring you may spot several hares chasing each other in circles or ‘boxing’ each other during competition for females.
Duck, pheasant and partridge are all common in the area
There are many footpaths in the area, some of which have been added recently through government environmental schemes.