February 17th 2017

February on the farm

a few weeks until...

There are a few weeks of breathing space in February until the madness that arrives with spring begins. For now, it’s all about taking good care of the stock to ensure that things go well with lambing and calving. Tim has divided the ewes into groups depending on how many lambs they are carrying (now that they’ve been scanned), so that the ones having triplets get the best nourishment, along with those having twins. We grow any feed we need here on the farm for the pregnant ewes as grass, or hay and silage, won’t provide enough protein for these crucial last weeks.  With full tummies they need really high quality rather than bulk food, although we are careful that the ‘singles’ have less as we don’t want their lamb to grow too big and cause difficulty lambing.

This will be our 32nd spring at the farm, and whilst I’d never want to tempt fate,  as you definitely can’t  know everything about farming, I can say that we have a way of doing things learnt over the years. Quite often we have a lambing helper, a vet student or volunteer, but hopefully with our son Jim back here now, and David our neighbour, we’ll manage ok.

The cows start calving in April, generally after lambing, but before then they have to undergo T. B testing which is required by law and has to done now unfortunately. We don’t like having to put them in the pen so that the vet can do this test when they are heavily pregnant, but we don’t have any choice, so will just have to be very careful to do it gently with minimum stress.

I mentioned Jim, who was working at River Cottage HQ as a gardener, (Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall’s farm in Axminster where they have a great restaurant and run courses featured in the TV River Cottage series) but is now going to set up his own veg enterprise here. He is putting up a large polytunnel at the moment and then will be busy with sowing seeds and planting.

Why on earth do we look forward to spring so when we know they’ll be far too much to do?!!!