By the barn August 2021
Posted: 2nd Aug 2021
“Danced bare heeling over the hare light lawn,
Spilling and reeling, tipsy as lapwings,danced,
Hearts brimming higher than swifts, blood
Trilling ginned as a cricket over the keys Of the spine.” Brian Giles
In years gone by, we would have been putting our tups( Rams) in with the ewes in August, with resulting lambs born in January/ February of the following year, but for several years we have not done so until much later in the year. Many farmers will do, though,in the hope of the Easter Spring lamb price lift.
Early lambing means keeping them indoors for some of the time and extra tlc and extra feed to make sure the lambs are ready for marketing in spring.
But the first of the sheep sales will be held now, both for breeding sheep and store lambs( this years lambs after weaning). We would hope to begin to buy in our store lambs, to keep them to sell much later in the year. We have much more grass for livestock to eat this year, having grassed some arable ground with a temporary ley.
However, with Covid and export problems the demand for lamb has risen considerably, leading to potentially higher prices in the sales ring.
But, our current crop of lambs will be getting ready to sell at market, having been treated for parasites of one kind or another, whilst growing and having reached the end of their ‘withdrawal’ period ( a length of time after any treatment when they are not allowed to enter the food chain). This year we have considered hiring a mobile ‘dip’ for all our sheep, to treat them all at once and give several weeks of protection from pests.
Cattle and calves are lounging under the trees, taking shade from the summer heat( or thundery showers)- they have a routine of where and when they move and when they graze or lay down. Actually, growing more grass means not using as much energy as if it were a corn crop and it ties carbon into the land, thereby helping our carbon footprint- something farmers are having to become more aware of.
Just like other farms, our harvest begins too, with the wheat and oats being cut, ready to be used for our livestock feed and the remaining straw baled- to be used for feeding as well as bedding over winter. I’m hoping the weather will be kind this month and send some benevolent, settled warmth so we can all combine and bale relatively unstressed- some chance, I fear!
Summer agricultural shows are few and far between because of uncertainty over Covid ( as they take many months and much financial investment to keep them running) but they are an important social occasion in the rural and agricultural way of life.
Wildlife, such as mice and hares run along the stubble and big, grey pigeons scavenge dropped grain. Collared Doves- a pale beige colour, first seen in this country in the fifties- also tuck in. Along the ditches, Rose- bay Willowherb grows tall and spiky, with its soft green leaves and fluorescent pink flowers, attracting bees and moths.
The Elephant Hawkmoth is especially attracted and lays its eggs on the Willow-herb and the caterpillar is quite spectacular, rearing up when disturbed and showing ‘eye spots’.
Posted by: Angela