I don't know what your screensaver is but I can guarantee it isn't a contender for cow pat of the month as ours currently is. As judged by the ecological administrator for the reservoir land, the one on the left is a clear winner showing grass self seeding through decomposing cow excrement. Cows do not graze pasture efficiently as given a choice they will not eat from a defecated area for 3 years so several Phd students have considerable knowledge and interest in such matters. It introduces such questions as should one aid pat distribution by harrowing, strip graze to limit the patted area so the cows move onto clean grazing or introduce sheep to mop up where a cow won't ? Or just leave nature to work at its best and support more grass growth and the dung flies and beetles to work it into the ground ?
The photographs also reveal that grass isn't the only species growing and in continued attempts to increase grass yield and reduce weeds one of the methods employed is to spray chemicals specifically designed to kill the weeds.
Until Nov 26th 2015, Grandfather rights exist which allow anyone born before 1964 and hence deemed to have gained enough knowledge of spraying through experience, to use a sprayer. These rights are to be withdrawn, necessitating a sprayer test to be taken before you can even purchase the chemicals to use on a field scale and a separate test allowing the use of a knapsack sprayer. I only mention this because Phil went on a 3 day spraying course earlier in the year and following much calibration of our sprayer and walking at an even pace between markers with the knapsack sprayer plus studying of various rules including how and when to wear your spraying suit; the day of the sprayer test dawned.
I would like to report a successful conclusion but the celebratory drink is on hold as the examiner though passing Phil with 'excellent' in the practical failed to download the current theory questions and will need to return with these at a future date - not a little frustrating for all concerned.
So a chap's energy and effort returns to the more familiar occupation of concreting only this time with added ingenuity.
Our cattle handling system just evolved in the most convenient location using existing walls, the addition of some metal rails and the purchase of a second hand crush. Newsletter readers who have been paying attention will have noted last year the construction of a new crush incorporating the luxury of a vet box; a secure area behind the cow where the vet can administer what is required without being crushed from behind by the next beast waiting for attention. Now the time has come for a complete re vamp of the handling system to encourage the cattle to voluntarily flow through rather than needing cajoling at close quarter at not inconsiderable danger to the stockperson. Included in this is a non-slip floor.
To be truly non- slip there should be un-evenness to grip on going forwards, backwards and sideways. Various patterns have been tried out and large stampers available to purchase but Phil came up with his own.
An off cut of expanded metal was wrapped round a tube, which I have just been informed was a dead fire extinguisher, to make a roller head to fit onto the bull float handle ( also featured in earlier newsletters ). When the concrete is starting to harden, usually coinciding with the ending of The Archers, the roller can be pulled over the concrete giving a pleasing textured and non slip finish.
Suffice to say at an earlier stage in the day when the wet concrete is being tamped any passing dogs were not welcome to leave textured paw prints. Hence Poppy sitting where I could keep her in sight.
The concrete wall has been removed back to a point where the bale spreader can be angled through the sliding door to straw up more of the sow yard than just straight ahead. there is more evening workshop time to be spent constructing the hinged gates to form part of the cattle race which need to be folded back when the sow yard is strawed up. One gets used to being a workshop widow.
Progress is being made on the front wall of the grain store with two sections of poured concrete walling completed. The photo on the right shows the convenience of filling up the grain bin which feeds into the mixing shed from the grain store on site which is the shed in the background.
We have had the first litters through since changing breeding company. We are now using Rattlerow GP large white and landrace for the sire and dam lines and trying the Maximus and Optimus for the terminal lines. Looking good so far.
Meanwhile there are the routine stock tasks to do, a water bowser to finish off so we can more easily fill up tanks on the reservoir land and a pump out of action which clears one of the dirty water tanks; further progress on the grain wall may have to wait. We are however hopeful of filling the stockman vacancy very soon which will be a relief to various friends who have possibly regretted offering to give us a hand !