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Friday, 30 September 2016

Nice and bright last day.

The day started cold but the sun was nice and bright. I am pleased to say the Hurricane worked extremely well and he got up toasty warm. Minimum temp outside last night was 8.3C. We were soon ready for the off putting fenders away and got everything else ready.

We popped over to see Tracey and Kym of the Little Chimney Co. moored ahead of us to thank them for their service and had another great chat about this and that. We will see them before too long I'm sure. They were on the move later today too.

The buttery yellow autumnal light was filtering through the still green leaves. You get the impression though that as soon as the first frost comes it will be a veritable blizzard of leaves. Maybe it wont only be the railways that are brought to a stand still due to leaves!

I'm afraid my photo doesn't do credit to the lovely scene as we passed through the wood.

We were soon passing Fisherwick and the asparagus farm. I noticed that there were more distant fields planted up and ferns showing nice and busy but a a large part of the field near the canal appeared to have been dug up. This photo was from the first day of our cruise this year. It seems the asparagus farm is part of the New Farm at Elmhurst, north of Lichfield. They grow soft fruit and have been supplying Sainsbury's with strawberries and raspberries since 1987 after doing pick your own from 1970's. There are 50 acres put to asparagus largely at Fisherwick and this was started in 1985. The normal season is from the end of April, beginning of May to 21st June as the asparagus will only grow when the soil temperature at 15 to 20cm is 20 to 22C. They invested in poly tunnels that they erect in January, also covering the soil with extra plastic. They have also invested in underground heating by running water pipes under the poly tunnels through which they pump water that is heated by an air sourced heat pump. This means that they can extend the season by six to eight weeks. They supply around 80 tonnes to Sainsbury's and about 300 are employed to process it all at the height of the season. Maybe they have grubbed up some of the ferns to lay more underground pipes?

I noticed this well maintained weather vane on the farm just past the asparagus. Not much wind today, so far!

We went past fields with cattle grazing and this one taking advantage of the canal. Do the farmers get charged for the use of the canal? I also noticed that the animals had 'brands' on their rumps as well as ear tags. I wondered how they did it these days. Apparently it is now done by freeze branding where the branding iron is cooled to -160C to -200C. When applied to the cow it changes the pigmentation of the hair so it grows back white. On white animals they leave it on a little longer and the hair drops out and doesn't grow back.

Just in case you don't know what a cows backside looks like here is one supplied by Wikipedia. It is apparently less painful that hot branding with a slight inflammation going down in a few days, it is clearly visible at any time of the year and the figures are usually much clearer. It does take more specialized equipment and takes a few days to show properly. Who would have thought!!

I love these windows in the club house of the Lichfield Cruising Club at Huddlesford Junction.

Looking on the Lichfield Canal restoration website they aim to have the canal open from Huddlesford to Ogley by 2026. With a little luck I'll still be able to go and take a look on a boat. My own worry is that it will open up the W&E and Walsall Canals and they wont be the lovely quite and secret place they are at the moment.

We moored up not far from the Plough at the junction as we are going to treat ourselves tonight to 'celebrate', commiserate, our last day this year. 

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