Lambing is well out of the way now -it was a pretty easy one this year with the weather just falling right for us. There was fairly decent grass growth early on this year due to the warm spring so we were able to turn ewes and lambs out pretty much straight away onto fresh pasture. The lambs are growing well – fresh grass is always the best thing for good milk production in the ewes. We’ll be able to get some up to the paddock at the farm shop shortly as the grass there gets going. Keep an eye out as well for the new Pot Bellied pigs and Boer goats at the farm shop – they all seem to settling in well.
Next big job is first crop silage – this has come a bit earlier this year, partly due to the warm weather and also from some newly planted “seeds” fields which are ahead of the rest. Hopefully this will be done by the middle of May. This will be baled and wrapped ready for cattle feed for next winter. Properly wrapped and sealed, the grass ferments slightly and forms its own preservative acids. This will get chopped and mixed with our own cereals when the cattle come in next winter as the grass stops growing. We have also done some whole crop silage on some other arable fields planted very early last Autumn and now going into beans. This is part of the ongoing crop rotation programmes we are trying to work on to increase soil fertility etc so that we need to use less fertilizers and sprays.
The start of May also sees us starting to turn cattle out again after being housed for the Winter. This generally provides us with our annual fence checking opportunity as the cattle take advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs and go for a gallop, occasionally realising too late there is actually a fence around the field. Wire fence versus 1 tonne of beef on the hoof generally has only one result – yup, repair time. Then it will be a big mucking out session to get the sheds emptied and the manure stacked ready to go back onto the fields as they become available. Yet more organic material and fertility going into the soil for the arable land.
The arable crops are generally looking well – again benefitting from the warm winter. We just need to keep on top of any weed and pest issues as warm weather suits them as well. We have a little more oilseed rape than usual this year so things have been looking a bit yellow around the place over the last few weeks. This is a great crop as part of the rotation with wheat and barley, as well as producing a useful seed in it’s own right. Ours goes for “industrial” use rather than for human consumption, which could mean anything from mineral oils to cosmetics.