By Denise Plummer

One of the cows comes for a brush

rams at Stowell Farm wait for their MOT checks

rainbow over the slurry store at Manor Farm

First published in News

Dare I say, the weather has been a little kinder to us over the last week; there was even a day when a pair of buzzards were enjoying the thermals.

We have had lovely sunny days, but before high winds gave way to calmer conditions, a large hole appeared in the roof of the silage barn.

Ian had noticed that a large corrugated roof sheet was hanging precariously at the apex of the barn, so I was warned that standing under it may not be a good idea.

While visiting the dairy, I noticed the slurry store was rising towards the rim again. The terragator and tankers remain parked next to the store, waiting for an opportunity to be able to spread some more slurry on the fields.

I also noticed a flock of racing pigeons, brought down in the storms, sheltering in the silage barn, looking for a few morsels of food.

One of the tyres on our feed wagon would not remain fully inflated, as the wheel rim had become damaged.

Ian thought the solution would be to take the wheel for repair and to have an inner tube added. This, however, did not work, as the tube was not quite the right size.

The rim was beaten into a better shape and, hopefully, the temporary repair will hold out until the new wheel arrives in two weeks’ time.

Apart from these little irritations, work has been routine, with a visit from our vet to do more pregnancy diagnoses (PDs) and post-natal checks on our dairy cows.

They gave good results. Two cows still milking well into their second year, without having given birth since the autumn before last, were found to be pregnant. This can happen occasionally, with a few of the higher yielding cows. It can be difficult to get them back in-calf while they are giving so much milk.

They have continued to produce milk long past the normal 305-day period and will give birth this autumn.

The weather was kind enough for Ian to do some spraying. The fields of over-wintered barley stubble can now be returned to the farm rotation. Ian was able to apply a herbicide to weeds, preparing for the crop of maize to be planted in April.

On Stowell Farm, sheep work gathers pace as lambing approaches. Rams in a barn have had their ‘MOT’: feet, eyes and teeth checked. They have also been given the same vaccination as the ewes, to prevent foot rot, as well as a dip in a foot bath. They are given an orally administered wormer, which kills the developing worm burden, after ingesting eggs and larvae from pasture.

Kevin has been grading lambs for sale into the food chain and managed to find another 96, so there are not many of last year’s lambs (hoggets) left on the farm.

The remainder of the 560 ewe lambs were moved from a field of stubble turnips to Corsham Park, where they will stay until autumn.

The young 12 to 24-month-old store cattle on Stowell Farm are tested for bovine TB before being sold. There is a statutory requirement for them to have tested negative for bTB within 60 days prior to movement, to cut the risk of spreading the disease.

Fortunately, all the cattle due to be sold tested clear. Surplus straw and silage has been sold, which Mark and Kevin have been loading.

I want to thank Marlbor-ough Farming Club for their welcome and hospitality when I talked about my farming life.

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