An odd week of births, deaths & bizarre weather

A typically odd week on every front including the weather for after three days in which it was almost too hot, now suddenly it’s time for four layers when you go out in the evening. One thing we have not had is the excessive rainfall experienced in the south-east, or for that matter in the part of Italy near Bari where Michelangelo and his family farm. Rain and hail has wreaked havoc on their tomato crop and we send them all our thoughts and wishes for some good fortune after this sadness.

cows

It’s also been a week of births and deaths – five births, but sadly we have had two still born calves. On the other hand, the steer which looked on its last legs is now fit again and samples taken rule out our greatest fear which was that we might have husk in the herd. Also I have to report Jupiter has had his day and goes on Wednesday. In the circumstances of being without a bull for two months and now followed by TB movement restrictions, A.I. is the only way forward for the cows that should have stood with the bull two months ago and this has been agreed with our two certifying bodies.

We are still considering when and by what amount we should reduce the size of our breeding flock of sheep: on the face of it this might possibly seem a straight forward matter but in reality is more complicated since it affects cash flow, market prices, pasture load and winter feed needs.

On a more cheering note both of our visitors to the farm this week left us feeling positive especially when they said how good our animals looked. The first was a young farmer exploring the options of going biodynamic or organic. The second was an agronomist called Jonathan Guy following up on the samples of fresh grass we had sent him for analysis. As a result of that discussion we are going to give mineral drenches – though I first need to confirm the matter with our two certifying bodies.

With Chris away at the start of the week Sebastien and Paul have had quite a bit to do with the stock. Tim, though on holiday, came in on both Monday and Tuesday and with the help of Paul and Sebastien, tagged the new calves and dealt with two nasty cases of fly strike. The season for this as a problem seems to get longer each year, hopefully the current chilly weather means there will be no more cases. – and that was wishful thinking, two more cases on Sunday! On Friday the young cattle and lambs went onto fresh grass and the ewes were moved today, Sunday.

Cows

Thinking of flying insects are we alone in seeing very few wasps this season? More generally are we the only ones plagued with Jackdaws in recent years? Finding a site for the bird feeders safe from their intentions is becoming more and more difficult. It’s daddy long legs time and there was a swarm of swallows in the field on the other side of the river today gorging themselves in readiness for their annual migration.

I accidentally caught a jazz programme on Radio 3 which stirred enough memories to cause me to get out some of my own jazz records. Listening to Benny Goodman I was almost immediately back in Zambia in 1967 playing a double LP acquired from a Dutch Forestry Officer who used to stay us when he made his trips ‘up country’. We had a battery powered record player – no mains electricity of course – an eclectic collection of LP’s which, given the static when we picked up the World Service on our ‘top of the range’ Victor short wave radio, were played almost to destruction. It was in this period we discovered that the only music genres we could listen to over and over again were classical and jazz. How long ago that was. Sebastien, for some reason, asked how many years we had been married. He was utterly stunned by being told 52 years – mind you it amazes us both as well!solar-panels-5

The solar panels are now in place and if the work is to be completed on time there is going to be much activity on the park – probably at weekends since most tenants would prefer not to be too disturbed.

The agronomist, in addition to making recommendations regarding mineral drenches -supported by our vet – is very much in favour of soil aeration – I have always had worries about this since we have such heavy clay. In this regard, he is keen to discover whether all the work in the field where 10 kilometres of piping was laid makes a difference to the growth after re-seeding. If it does, we may need to review our stance.

Not entirely sure what this week holds apart from Jupiter going. We will need to carry out the drenching, once agreed, and with four cases of foot rot spotted today as well as the fly strike, we need to be alert –  lucky Tim to be coming back to all that!  For myself the paperwork needs sorting since we are heading into inspection time and I like to be able to be relaxed for that and that requires all necessary information is collected and collated well in advance.

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