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By the barn January 21

Posted: 6th Jan 2021

“When men were all asleep the snow came flying,

In large white flakes falling on the city brown, Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying, Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town.”

Robert Bridges

Happy new year- well, let us hope it is better than 2020 and with the roll out of a vaccine, Covid may finally be on its’ way out!

January brings more of the same for us. Bedding the cattle several times a week (more if the atmosphere is damp) with straw that is in short supply. Feeding with corn and silage to maintain condition and moving imminent calvers into a separate place for them to give birth. We usually have two or three born over winter and we need to take care when entering their shed.

As we no longer lamb early, the ewes, although pregnant, are still some way off lambing and so do not need any extra feed yet- only enough to keep them healthy and they should be able to find enough grass to do that, with maybe a mineral block to provide anything their nutrition might be lacking. As we do not graze our sheep on our cattle pasture, we can feed them on the ground if necessary- troughs make too mess on our ground and its easy to get knocked over by determined ewes and our legs bashed against the hard edges.

So, we have left the European Union with a deal and its hard to see how it will affect agriculture in the coming year, but there are no barriers to trade as yet.

Important detail was missing from the announcement of the agricultural bill made before Christmas .Lowland livestock and upland farmers are the sectors most likely to be affected by all the changes ongoing, potentially losing 60-80% of their income and it is worth remembering that around 80% of farm income goes back into the local economy- something that particularly needs our support at this present time.

As we make our way across the fields on our rounds, checking livestock and doing repairs to gateways and fences, we often see how the furrows in our ancient pasture move the rainwater on its way into the ditches and then into streams. Birds, including Pheasants and Buzzards often sit on the ridges, rifling through the remnants of dropped straw and silage, looking for a tasty morsel or several and the cowpats fertilise the ground, returning the nutrients taken by grazing animals.

We will be hedge laying now too – just the odd bit to improve our field boundaries. The fieldfares and redwings are finishing cleaning up the berries and fallen fruit and I will be planting a few hedge- line trees, grown in pots over the summer.

What lovely names trees have! Spindle, Wayfaring, Hornbeam, Whitebeam and Buckthorn -deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in winter, found in our country hedges and woods.

Ted will be seven this year and in his prime. Although he has his moments, generally he does a good job (excellent worker away from home!)- I cannot believe it is that long since we lost our Meg- and he is very loving , but he certainly gets dirty at this time of year and, consequently, so do all our kitchen cupboards when he shakes! ewes in snow

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Farming

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