March 2020 is probably one all of us will never forget… at the beginning life was normal and here on the farm the rain continued, by the end of the month everyone was in lock down and the weather finally broke with sunshine at long last! With no rain, the fields miraculously dried up after 6 months of rain and at last we were able to get something into the ground.
Luckily self-isolation goes hand in hand with one person in one tractor, with communications being made via mobile phone. This has been a perfect time for us to finally get wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans, Lucerne and grass seeds all planted over approximately just 5 weeks. We have cultivated to date on circa 500 acres of ground, not a bad job! The last grass field was planted on Monday 27th April and the field was rolled tight by 9pm that night. We try to roll all fields after they have been drilled, this is to help the soil pack around the seed and to try and prevent the slugs from eating the sprouting seeds before they get their heads up through the soil. Hopefully by having such a wide range of crops planted something will yield and help to fill the barns. Any crop to harvest would be nice as we were beginning to wonder if we would have anything much at all this year. I think we did get a bit of a helping hand because the day we finished planting the rain came and hopefully things will now make an appearance quickly.
With such good weather the sheep who lamb outside in the traditional fashion on our farm have behaved themselves very well. There is one thing sheep do not like during lambing and that is rain. They do not mind the cold or wind but to have light to moderate winds with sunshine is just perfect. Our sheep are therefore happy, welcoming their babies, lambs up and away and dry quickly, looking for the milk bar which is exactly what we want and have had the joy to see this year. Our sheep and lambs have been quickly returned to their main fields where the rain in the last couple of days has soaked in and will now have a nice bite of grass for them to enjoy.
The cows and calves born in March/April are now out in their summer fields, most are Blonde D’Aquitaine Cross with a few Limo Cross which were born by the younger cows. We did not have the smoothest of calvings but luckily no middle of the night tug and pull jobs. Rupert, the Blonde D’Aquitine, and Lennie, the Limousine, will be joining their girlfriends at the end of May to begin another year in their cycle of life. Just four cows left behind in the field behind St Martins now, these are getting on a bit and 2020 calves are their last ones. They have produced two dark brown calves, one very cuddly coated calf with a grumpy expression and one light ginger/white calf with a constant surprised look are all playing and running raced quite happily.
Our building project is finally getting underway, the barn that burnt down last November is being rebuilt, at this moment in time the site is being prepared for the erection work to start shortly. Hopefully if all goes smoothly it will be ready to receive some of this year’s hay crop. It will be nice to get the job started at last as it has looked very forlorn for the past 5/6 months.
Well May will see the last of the sheep stragglers lamb, young cattle stock turned out to their summer fields, grass growing and long awaited crops finally covering the fields and the barn to boot…hopefully….