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By the barn September 20

Posted: 2nd Sep 2020

“There poppies, nodding, mock the hope of toil,

There the blue bugloss paints the sterile soil,

Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf,

The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf,

O’er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade,

And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade.”

From ‘ the Village’ George Crabbe

Summer is drawing to a close and fat, grain fed wood pigeons leave it until the last minute before heaving themselves out of the way of the tractors with trailers bringing in the remaining harvest.

Yields, although never expected to be brilliant after the last years weather, are variable but generally low.

We made plenty of grass silage and could have made more, but we are short of own grown straw, although our oat crop did better than we’d hoped, even though it was late sown and late to germinate. So, at least we have some grain to feed our livestock .

As the nights lengthen and the temperature cools, all the field work begins again for the coming year- the ploughing ( some farmers prefer not to plough, to use ‘min till’ or ‘ no till’ systems, where the seed is sown directly into the unworked ground) , harrowing and sowing and rolling. The same field can be gone over four or five times, unless a combination drill is used, which cuts down the passes.

The seagulls and buzzards love to hang around to pick up a fat, juicy worm, getting quite close to the moving tractor at times, with an occasional flurry to drive off a passing red kite. Long days, often working well into the night, until all is sown that has to be!

The follow up post brexit conservation schemes are being drawn up now, by government, with a view to directing the mode of travel for the environment. To be really effective, they will need to be easily accessible to all, landowner and tenant alike and not scrimp on the payment nor the time of payment. It’s all very well wanting environmental enhancement, but the ones who are best placed to do this have to make a living from what we do too!

Dairy cattle will start to spend the nights indoors and Autumn calving will begin. Markets have managed to operate throughout Covid 19 lockdown with strict distancing practised.

Red meat( and dairy products) has often received a bad press, but actually form part of a balanced diet, being rich in iron, zinc, b vitamins and protein. It contains all the amino acids, all the vitamins and all the minerals the body needs in all the correct ratios. Milk consumption helps bone health especially in children and teenagers. Remember ‘ Derbyshire neck’? Result of a shortage of iodine, which is found in milk( 200ml glass of semi skim equals 41% recommended intake iodine). Just don’t overindulge!

The grass is losing its feed value and maybe some judicious supplementary feeding will be needed.

Our year old young stock will be brought inside, having been wormed over the summer period and will get used to the new routine before being sold. Non kept to make up herd numbers this time!

We suffered a lightening strike during one thunderstorms, blowing our internet and killing a six month old calf- a very frightening experience, but cattle are particularly prone to electric shocks. It could have been worse- it could have killed the whole lot, as they were sheltering together under the Ash trees.

No summer shows and socially distanced sales make for an unusual summer/Autumn but we cope best we can- buying store lambs and Rams, selling the home bred finished lambs and , yay, another Btb test for all our cattle. conversion of grass Image

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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