Well it’s no wonder the weather features so large in our conversation and thoughts. The majority of the week was chilly with rain which seemed to fall all day on Monday so that there are horrendous puddles all around the farm, but on Friday it was all change. Sunshine and temperatures that accelerated the greening of the pastures arrived with us and stayed! This time of year is always tricky for a farm, and particularly a biodynamic one. The cattle are getting restless and want to leave the barn but the grasses are not yet tall enough, though nearly ideal for sheep. All being well, in two months our problem will be a surfeit of grass, but for the next few weeks we barely have enough growth.
Our breeding flock is due to start lambing in mid-April but in fact we had our first lamb this week. A bit of a double disaster to be honest because, it was an ewe lamb who lambed, and that means at least one of the male lambs remained fertile! We have therefore potentially a further 63 animals that could lamb, but have no idea which are actually pregnant, and, if they are, when they might actually lamb. All this has rather put a dampener on our positive feelings over the weight gain over the past three weeks!
Next week the cattle receive their second and last dose of husk vaccine, are scanned, where appropriate and have samples of blood and faeces taken to check whether the herd has maintained its high health status – all a bit testing both physically and emotionally.
This week for the first time in months I have, courtesy of our ATV, been able to see for myself the state of play in all the fields and not just those close to the house. Some delights and some disappointments. The delights came not just from seeing that the field re-seeded last year is growing well, but from seeing, watching and listening to the lapwings in the fields at the back of the farm. Also, it was very good to see a couple of hares in the field which abuts the wood. Less happily, some pastures still are not ready to be used, there are still areas of standing water, areas around feeding troughs are not pretty to see, and, in the field where the pipes for the ground source heating was laid much remedial work is needed.
We think we still have three weeks feed left but know we shall need more bedding straw for lambing. With the almost doubling in numbers of our cattle we have used far more straw this winter than in any previous year. Despite doubling the barn area, though we far exceed requirements on space for animals, it could be in coming years we need a new ‘loafing’ area.
We have burnt a lot of wood this winter and sadly, but fortunately, at least two trees in the wood need clearing from footpaths and another couple from the banks of the brook. All will end up in our woodpile.
The Business Park feels very different, though no less busy, now the Mercedes people have moved out. Work is ongoing to attempt to improve the litter issue around the skips, and the wide section of the drive which was starting to break up has been carefully repaired.
There are ‘blossoms’ of the work of last year’s Woofer are here for us to enjoy; The daffodils that Sébastien and Alessio planted last autumn on the bank behind the Woofers caravan are flowering splendidly, and the Cherry Tree that Janine and Marissa helped Paul plant last spring is looking particularly resplendent.
It was a real treat at the start of the week to see Radek and his wife Joanna. Those who have been following us over the last eleven years will know how invaluable was the input from two Polish students, Radek and Piotr, who spent their vacations with us until laden with academic qualifications they no longer had free summers. Bartek, Piotr’s elder brother joined us for a year during the time the boys were “taking their holidays with us”, and we all felt ourselves much members of the each other’s family. All three ‘boys’ are now married, with Bartek about to become a father, and what’s more, Radek turned 30 this week leaving us all feeling very old but very very pleased to have known him for so long!