One of the sheds at capacity with round straw bales and half Heston rectangular ones. Being able to keep the straw dry means it is not dusty for the stock or stockmen, reducing respiratory problems. Our youngest son Toby, fitted in farm work between other apparently compulsory summer adventures after year one at Uni' and was very useful as a tractor driver hauling bales.
Inevitably there was concreting on the activities list too. We are expanding the suckler beef herd and consequently require more winter housing. There is no easy solution next to the existing cattle on the South side of the road so the plan is to convert this shed which housed the sheep last winter on the North side of the road.
We had contractors in to apply 25mm of foam insulation to the metal roof to prevent condensation. Two men and white van arrive, the chemicals are delivered, cherry picking box attached to the telescopic handler and one chap sprays whilst the other sorts out his foam supply and moves him to a new area.
Phil has had some discussion on the Farming Forum about width of Yorkshire boarding on the walls above animal height to allow ventilation but not draught. Lots of hammering later and it is in at 4 inches of wood then a one inch gap. Now on to the mammoth task of welding all the internal metal work, with the time pressure of needing to house the cattle when the weather turns.
Numbers wise the pigs are producing well, we still have work to do on them being too fat. The rations were altered to include more roughage in the form of middlings and we have some on restricted feed rather than the norm of ad lib.
We started using AI from a different breeding company nearly 4 months ago and await with interest to see the first lean and muscled piglets to be born next week.
The land which we are renting round the reservoir which hasn't been farmed for 10 years while the expansion was under way has taken a lot of work to 'get round'. The hedges have been trimmed back revealing fences which need attention, the weeds and scrub sprayed off, mown, baled ready to burn, the land cultivated, sprayed again to kill the volunteer weeds, more cultivating to get a seed bed and finally drilled with grass - so todays rain is perfect. We hope to put the beef young stock out there next Spring.
Summer came early and hay making in June was successful. Trying to get a second cut in late July / August was not, we never went more than three consecutive days without rain. The grass still needed turning or it would kill the crop underneath, it has lost too much digestibe value and developed too many mould spores to be fit to give to stock even as bedding so it is on a trailer waiting to burn; the 'harvest' from 10 acres. Win some and lose some all due to the weather, over which we have no control.
We have several farm buildings which the swallows like to use. Due to the earliness of the seasons they have had three clutches rather than the usual two. These later chaps need to get going soon if they are to winter in Africa - we then get a respite from piles of swallow poo.
On a livestock farm you generally do poo on a large scale and since all our housed stock are on straw as bedding this mounts up even more.
On the right is evidence on a field scale of our muck for straw arrangement with an arable farming neighbour but on a smaller scale the muck is available in sacks ( load your own 50p or ready filled £1 ) or bring a trailer which we will load for you ( £10 per loader bucket ) - ideal for the garden or alottment.
All part of the Autumn work load is the hedge trimming; good practice and the entry level counrtyside stewardship scheme mean the inside field hedges are done every two years. This helps thicken up the hedges and is less disruptive to wildlife. We have contractors in for this job, their large, specialised equipment is just more efficient than the hedge cutter we share with a neighbour. It is another job you are best off just paying for.
Just a reminder that not only is all our meat British, it is all reared by us at Garr House Farm except the chicken which is reared in Tolleshunt D'Arcy - and yes I think gifs are fun; thanks Dudley !