Despite the fact that the week has been distinctly chilly (compared to last week), lack of rain has meant not only that the bridle path has dried out, but that work could be done on the pastures. A number of fields were rolled and sprayed with the biodynamic preparation 500. We had some rain on Saturday night but not sufficient to prevent some spraying of prep 501 this Sunday morning – a testing exercise for those involved since work started at 5.30am.
On Monday after the calves had had their second clostridial injection, all the cattle left the barn. The five cattle due to calve soonest (one of which arrived this weekend) have been put in with the breeding flock which means that if any of them need to be moved to the barn for attention it will be a relatively simple task; so, we have, in effect, three herds. The outcome of the health test was less satisfactory. Though we are clear of BVD (and you don’t want to know what that is) one of the cows is likely to be a carrier of Joanne’s disease. Quite how is a mystery but we certainly need to talk to our vet as to next steps.
We were fortunate this week that Tiernan has been able to help both with the cattle on Monday and later in the week, rolling, using his antique and renovated tractor which this time last year was in bits. It is now a shiny red colour and able to use all its 54 hp.
The sheep are looking pretty good. The breeding ewes have maintained their condition well and, given proper lambing should be starting in ten days that is good news. The ewe lambs continue to produce ‘unauthorised’ lambs. Happily, the ewe lambs seem to have plenty of milk and there have been very few losses.
Tim has been working to get the now empty barn fitted out as the lambing shed. The material cleared out of the barn is being stacked in a field rather than on the windrows for spreading next year. For this year, we are buying in compost from green waste collected by our local district council. Obviously, it has to come with appropriate clearance in order to satisfy the requirements both of our inspecting bodies and DEFRA (once called the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries) the just under 59 tons will be spread on the two pastures we have most concerns about.
We have still to agree on the seed mix for the field rather ruined by the earth energy project but have agreed with our contractor how the field should be prepared.
We had a visitor this week to carry out what was described as a Farm Health Survey. Rather less frightening than it sounds. Worcester Wild Life Trust have obtained funding to survey the degree to which the farms which have signed up to the project, support pollinating insects such as the many varieties of bees, butterflies, moths and so on. What is of particular interest is ‘connectivity’. A term we normally associate with the needs of birds. For the bird life, it seems clear we do far better than for insects so we may well want to explore how we can improve matters. Recently I referred to the fact we had seen neither kingfishers or heron of late. Michael, our visitor, reported both hearing a kingfisher and seeing a heron which was really good news, and the heron was seen again yesterday flying away from the brook.