March has definitely been our busiest month to date since we took on Cocking Hill farm back in September.
All of the times before farming where I said that I was exhausted/busy, I was wrong, I didn’t truely know what those words mean’t until now!
Our average days are 6.30am-9pm at the moment – especially since the clocks have gone forwards and there is more light in the evening. Tea and coffee intake is up to about 9 cups a day too – just to keep us going. Cocking Hill Farm is basically sponsored by hot bevs and sugary snacks.
March has also been a bit of a milestone for me, it will mean that I have been full time farming for 6 solid months, I have the scratches and bruises to prove it! I can’t really comprehend that 6 months ago I was a bit nervous driving ‘off road’, now I’m rattling around everywhere in the defender/quad/tractor without a second thought.
Of course there are days (usually the rainy ones, where I long for my old desk, my lovely old comfy warm desk…), but the truth is, when the sun is shining and we’re on top of the hill looking down at the lovely views I couldn’t think of anything worse than being indoors.
At the beginning of the month, thoughts turned to tractor work, we wanted to convert some of our fields to grass from arable and this mean’t ploughing, rolling and seeding. Luckily we have a fantastic tractor expert from back at the home farm to get the job done. The lovely Colin has been busy converting 150 acres into grass for us, which hopefully will really help us out with grazing in the future!
Whilst the ploughing etc has been going on, I have been busy grass raking and seeding some of our more rough fields. Where the dairy cows left the farm, and we took it on, the grass got to an extremely long stage and as a result we had large patches of dead thatch in some of our fields.
I set about raking and seeding with our Einbock and in no time I had covered our worst fields in a couple of days (with the help of the John Deere speakers blasting out Kisstory…naturally).
They look 100 times better now, especially now the seeds have germinated and the grass has been shooting up in this gorge weather! Also, not to brag, but my raking lines in the fields are ON POINT.
They look super neat, and I was so pleased as it was my first big tractor job!
Fencing…argh. Sorry for still banging on about it…but yes, March has been a busy month for permanent fencing again. We have actually really broken the back of it now..I think we only have about 5 fields left to go!
We have taken to moving sheep in the fields that we are fencing – for motivational purposes, a bit like a Crystal Maze challenge…like ‘you have 6 hours to complete this fence, otherwise all the sheep WILL escape down the South Downs Way!’.
I won’t miss clambering inside the back of the Defender to pull out tangled rolls of wire, or scratching my face in brambled hedges whilst rolling it out! Andy and I keep joking that once the fencing is done, what will we do with all of our spare time….somehow I think we’ll still have plenty to keep us busy!
There has also been the small matter of gearing up for LAMBING 2017…hmmm.
As the grass has been growing nicely, we have fertilised a all of the lambing paddocks ready for the girls to move in at the end of March, and they all look so lush a green now – the perfect spot for outdoor lambing.
We have also had to ‘crutch’ (shear) the bellies of our older girls and ewe lambs (basically the few that didn’t have a second shear in the summer), so they are all done and looking clean a tidy ready for lambing (if a little large…!).
As we lamb everything outdoors (all 1,800 of them!) we only bring in any problems and in effect the barn will act as a mini hospital where we bring in orphan lambs to feed and struggling mums.
So we have also been prepping the barn, penning up and getting it all ship shape for any guests who may have to stay. Its looking slightly more homely in there now, if a little sparse, being a large ex dairy, and I will give you a tour once we are all up in running.
Main must haves in the barn (aside from actual lambing/sheep related things…) are a good radio/kettle and plenty of tea coffee and snacks at all time!
All in all March has been tiring, but also majorly productive.
We have got so much done, its actually amazing what you can get done in a month!
My next farm related post will be all about Lambing! So stay tuned and sorry for all the lamb spam you will be receiving over Instagram during the next 4 weeks!