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By the barn march 18

Posted: 3rd Mar 2018

*“Dear March- come in- how glad I am, I hoped for you before.

Put down your hat, you must have walked, How out of breath you are.”

Emily Dickinson

So here we are – March ‘many weathers’ already and we see daylight hours become longer than night time at the spring equinox.

March also sees the start of our lambing season- we used to lamb earlier, but it is hard work with the weather against you and it is easier if the ewes can graze outside during the day. They need less bedding and ,as we still have the day jobs to carry out, we can keep a close eye on them.

Pip has not learnt not to chase sheep yet, so it is important she does not accompany us when we go round them to check- she will have to be tied up or shut inside- Ted knows not too and will obey the instruction to lay down.

We’ve had a few calves but our main calving period is later.

One of the things we’ve not been short of this winter, is water. The fields have been like wet sponges when even our feet have left footprints in the grass.

The ridge and furrow has done its job of channel long water away and down into the ditches. Too much or too little water at different times of the year affect us quite dramatically- too much and the ground becomes waterlogged and seed can rot, or later the harvested corn needs drying. Too little and the plants don’t grow.

There is a “water framework directive” which applies to England and this comprises regulation to protect our water- drainage, rivers, groundwater etc and applies to everyone- builders, industry as well as farmers.

One of the issues it addresses is nitrates in water- which leach out of farmland in wet weather and consequently, in certain areas where the levels are higher there are ‘nitrate vulnerable zones’. This means there are strict limits as to how much, when and where and at what concentration farmers are allowed to fertilise their arable and grass land and we keep records for this, which can be inspected .

Of course, there are also natural sources and run off from housing, sewage and industry are also responsible for some.

Dairy cattle will be producing more milk as turnout means they have access to the spring grass and this tends to mean a seasonal drop in milk price, as there is more about.

Before our cattle can go out, we are doing our annual tb test – our cows aren’t handled as often as dairy cows, it is easier and safer for us to test now, as they wont be very keen to come back in just after tasting fresh Spring grass.

Grass will be fertilised to ensure lots of growth for when we start to make silage and, on some farms, it will be rolled.

Crops will also have some , if the ground isn’t too wet, to feed the growing plant, so that, come harvest time, it yields well for us.

Our newly layed hedge will be coming into leaf, as do all the others and it will be interesting to see what other plants flourish now that the light has been let in- such as ground ivy, violets and celandines. celandine


Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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