By the barn May2020
Posted: 5th May 2020
“A leap year is never a good sheep year.”
I hope that old English proverb isn’t true, as we have increased our sheep population over the last couple of years.
It’s nearly summer and, although we are living through unprecedented times, farm work and food production carries on.
Although Coronavirus has caused pressures on the supply system not faced before- such as the immediate change from service ( catering ) to retail in massive proportion as people stop eating out and cook in the home. Where as catering needs are in bulk purchase( and therefore bulk packaged), the personal shopper requires smaller amounts in small packs and neither the packaging producers nor the processors were set up for this instant change.
Milk which went into the service side couldn’t find an immediate home in retail and it couldnt be kept, so unfortunately, had to be tipped away, causing lots of stress and worry for the farmer. But cattle still continue to produce and still need to be fed and looked after.
Grass will be mown and cut for silage this month, being baled or clamped to preserve its goodness as a winter feed.
Farmers have made the most of the dry conditions to catch up with cropping as best they can- putting Spring sown crops in where maybe a winter sown crop would have been, in the hope that we can get some return at harvest time.
Livestock markets have still been open but the farmer can only drop off their lambs/ cattle, remaining in the vehicle at all times and then leaving straight away, leaving the market staff to sort and sell in safe conditions. Buyers also have to adhere to strict guidelines.
The wild flowers are starting to flourish in the warmer weather and those such as field pansy are found amongst the arable plants. Smaller than cultivated varieties, they are a delicate creamy colour with a centre of yellow.
Grassland that contains native grasses and flowers provide good breeding and feeding areas for butterflies and moths. Different plants supply food for different species and different terrain also helps , giving a wide variety of insects a chance to breed and feed.
Blossom on fruit trees herald a good crop but can be easily damaged by late frosts.
Our cattle will be calving outside during this month and will need checking several times a day, particularly as they show signs of being close to giving birth and a good torch is a necessity! Bright moonlight helps enormously, not only with being able to see the ground over which you are walking, but also its less distracting for the animal.
Any immunity the lambs had passed down to them by their mothers milk is probably wearing off now they are a little bit older and some may be vaccinated against various disease and also a close eye kept on the parasitic worm situation.
So a busy time for all!
Posted by: Angela