Farming notes 12 Aug 2010

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A Herdwick ram shakes off the rain

The weather continues to be most frustrating – enough drizzle to hold up hay making and slow the ripening of the crops but no way near enough to do much good for grass growth.

Summer activities in full swing which places a great demand on my, Andrews and Will’s time, therefore in Nick’s absence (on honeymoon!) Matt is our sole full time livestock person (other than big jobs where I get involved – obviously we try to work these into wet days even though it’s not so comfortable then!).

Livestock

Matt has been doing a fantastic job and is very keen to take responsibility for the stock and contribute to management discussions where a lot of his ideas are ideals shared by Sheepdrove (minimal input systems, production from forage, cutting housing costs and keeping stock out to grass for longer to name but a few) – most encouraging.

New season lamb continues to be of excellent quality. Also, rather than chasing for numbers to keep coming forward, we’re having to rotate each group we pick from just to stop them from getting too big! Again, further proof even in a dry year that our new extensive system works and we’re allowing the stock to achieve their potential, rather than stunting their development through lack of adequate food.

We’ve now got most of the bulls running together so that we don’t end up with housing issues at a later date. More checking at the moment to find those cows in calf and those who are not.

Arable and forage

Harvest has started, all of the barley has been cut. The droughts across Europe have pushed conventional commodities to unprecedented levels and it is hoped the organic grain market will follow suit, albeit in a more sustainable manner, rather than being driven by speculating fund managers!

We finally got the hay made on Hundred Acre field (Bockhampton Down) – very touch and go dodging the showers but it has made well, retaining a good colour and has stayed cool in the stack. Most importantly we didn’t need to wrap any.

My thanks to our contractor for having the patience and diligence to regularly check his moisture probe and wait for a while after each bout of drizzle and to Andrew for staying out until virtually midnight with me to get them all under cover as the skies blackened for a thorough soaking several hours afterward – finding bales in the dark is not easy! So we now have 200 half tonne bales for the young stock and dry cows for this winter.

Chris Blunt

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