The period of dry weather enabled us to crack on with hay making, and thankfully we got this all finished before the rains came! Dry weather is essential for making good quality hay, as unlike silage, the grass needs to be totally dry before baling so that it doesn’t go mouldy. The hay is made in small bales and left unwrapped (as we want it to stay dry, not pickle itself like silage!). This year we have made approximately 900 small bales which will be primarily sold for horse feed. If you’re interested in seeing videos of the hay making process check out our Facebook page.
The clocks have sprung forward and we have entered the month of May, but sadly the warm spring weather seems like a distant memory! Down on the farm Robert and James remain busy as they prepare for the cattle to be turned out in to the fields. Fences are being checked and repaired to ensure there are no escapees, and fields are being checked to make sure there is enough grass to nourish the cattle. Grass growth has been a bit slow due to the lack of rain … yep, a farmer is never happy with the weather! It really is a beautiful sight seeing the cattle being moved in to the fields – they love to frolic and play in their new environment so keep your eyes peeled in the fields around Northmoor if you’re lucky enough to live locally.
It’s all go down on the farm as we head out of March and in to April. Calving is now in full flow and so far we have welcomed 15 heifers and 8 bulls to the herd, including a gorgeous set of twins! Calving is a busy time of year for James and Robert – much like midwives on a maternity ward, they have to check the cows multiple times a day just in case any of the cows are coming in to difficulty and need assistance with their labours. This includes checks throughout the night at 10pm, 2am and again at 7am … they say there’s no rest for the wicked! Only another 25 to go!
Chilli con Carne with Brisket!
This is some serious comfort food! Perfect served with Nachos and eaten whilst watching the rugby!
Cold, winter days are a bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them! Personally we love them; the crisp, icy mornings with all the trees and hedges sparkling with frost really is beautiful. Perfect for wrapping up warm and going out and enjoying the fresh air! With winter well under way the cattle are all in the sheds keeping nice and warm. Since our last update we have had seven calves who are now skipping round being very playful! They won't have long to wait until they have some more play mates when the rest of the cows start to calve towards the end of February. We have had a busy few weeks working with the cattle, first we had the vet out to scan all the cows to check they were in calf and they all were which was brilliant news! Secondly we had our annual TB test (more about this horrible disease to come in a later article). This is always a worrying time as any animals that test positive have to be culled, some farmers have had entire herds wiped out by this disease and there really is little that can be done to prevent the spread as a lot of it is passed on to animals via wildlife. Thankfully all the cattle passed the test and we're clear for another 12 months until we're tested again next year.
Whilst the cattle are inside it is a great opportunity to weigh them all. By collecting their weights we can monitor their growth rates and see which animals are performing better. We can then look for patterns in their genetics to see if any particular bloodlines have better growth rates than others. We use this information to decide which cows to breed from and which bull they should go with. As well as selling beef we also sell some cattle to other farms with herds of Ruby Red Devons. We have got three young bulls for sale and have just selected a group of young females to sell for breeding as well. It is great that other farmers recognise the quality in our animals and are looking to purchase some to add to their own herds.