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By the barn November 2018

Posted: 10th Nov 2018

The colourful leaves are flying off the trees with the windy weather and drifting into banks alongside fences and walls, potential homes for bugs and small mammals.

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The nutrients released as they decompose feed the hedge bottoms and future plants, whose seeds are also laying dormant.

November brings short days and some frosts won’t go amiss either, as mild and damp air causes problems for housed livestock- ours are still outside but we are getting the sheds ready for them. The cooler weather increases their appetites, especially as the grass has lost its nutritional value and so we are feeding them with silage daily- not over feeding them as it is worth its weight in gold this season.

Pheasants are seen picking over dropped feed and straw, accompanied by numerous crows and small birds and there is a cacophony of caws and croaks and trills when they are disturbed.

Although we haven’t any cats of our own, several are seen in the sheds hunting for hungry mice and small rats or anything else they can find.

Our herd has got smaller this winter, not by design or intention, but through the continual spread of bovine tb.

Two cows failed the six monthly test and three others raised serious concerns. This meant they all had to go, leaving their young calves to be reared by us, one only a fortnight old. It also means we are unable to sell live cattle, unless to an Assured finishing unit ( run under strict bio security regulations in order to prevent any transmission of potential disease to wildlife or neighbouring cattle), creating uncertainty again, as we have to have two clear tests before being certified as clear.

Our breeding herd next year will be smaller and therefore our income will be down by thousands of pounds – we cannot buy replacements until we are clear and do we really want to bring outside animals into our herd, which we have spent thirty years building up? Although not pets, our animals are selected by us, we know their breeding, their temperament, their longevity and their productivity and it is a serious blow to us when that selection is compromised by something we have no control over, emotionally too!

Anyway, we still have to carry on as normal- our sheep need to move to where the grazing is available and we are continuing to take our finished lambs to market.

Ted is having lots of exercise and works well as he approaches four years old, a large and beautiful long limbed collie but still daft as a brush and his partner in crime, Pip, loves him to bits and tries to copy him without any real idea of what she is doing( if she is allowed).

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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