Well, it’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on farm goings on via a blog post. Obvs you’ll see what is going on via instagram and in particular my stories – but I thought it was about time that I gave you an insight into the bigger picture.
Since lambing we had a bit of a hectic time trying to chase grass with the drought that gave us a few sleepless nights if I’m honest. The system we run relies on grass and at one point we really were running thin! Luckily, it rained just in time – and we didn’t actually need to emergency supplement feed any of the sheep/lambs! It was the strangest thing when it eventually did rain (I think we went a good 8 weeks – perhaps more without a drop!), the clouds opened just as I was moving lambs and I literally just stood in a t-shirt and shorts looking up at the sky and smiling like a mad woman.
Summer involved a lot of hot days immunising different groups of lambs as well as popping some fly cover on them (preventing the horrible condition of fly strike!). As there was only Andy, Will and I – we slowly and methodically packed up the Prattley (mobile handling yard), moved the Prattley a hell of alot of times into the different fields so that we could run the sheep in to treat them! We got there in the end though – all with hearty farmers tans at the end of it!
Then came shearing – we had our usual lovely gang of welsh shearers come across to shear the ewes back in June, and we weaned the lambs at a couple of weeks later and got them onto what good grass we had and the ewes we’re put onto bigger fields to get a bit of respite.
In the meantime we acquired some lovely Sussex Cattle (11 steers to be exact!). They were brought over to graze one of the SSI (Site of Scientific Interest) fields owned by Cowdray Estate for the Summer. It was lovely to have some suckler cows to have on the downs! It is my favourite activity at the end of the day to go up to the downs and check them – the view is incredible from up there!
Andy and I managed to grab a couple of weekends away over the summer period and it was SO nice to getaway from the farm and just hang out away from sheep/cows – although most car journeys we pointed out different fences/gates/animals/tractors we liked the look of – ‘you can take the couple off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the couple….’. We are hoping to go away for a WHOLE week soon….one day…maybe…hopefully! But let’s see if that ever happens – we may have to wait until 2019 now! It’s bonkers how much I used to take my weekends off for granted. Now we have one weekend off a month if we’re lucky! Oh well, thats farming for you!
Right, let me talk to you about our winter plans. As you know, as I bang on about it all the time, we run an extensive grass/forage based system on the farm – meaning that we don’t feed concentrates to the animals and rely on them eating grass and forage crops. Therefore before winter we grow Fodder Beet ready to harvest before the winter so that we can feed it out on the fields along with silage bales (pickled grass). This year, not only do we have fodder beet and silage, we have kindly been able to plant up a few of Cowdray Estate’s arable fields with stubble turnips for us to graze over the winter period. We direct drilled the turnips (with 3 different varieties for the fussy lambs – just incase they favour one over the other!) straight into the arable field stubble back in the tail end of August and they are looking very well now! Doing this will hopefully suit everyone, as we have a lovely winter forage crop, and the Estate have some fields that are getting naturally fertilised by the lambs without destroying the soil structure. Good old sustainable and eco friendly farming!
And finally – shearing AGAIN. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that we were shearing again last week! This time we were shearing the lambs. I had a massive influx of questions on why it was that we shear the lambs! Basically, we shear them because we sell most of them onto other farms for breeding stock and the tend to do better with their coats off. I suppose its like getting a fresh haircut for the new term at school….kind of. As there was no one to collect the wool for the shearers this time round – I did the wool collecting, I gathered and bagged up 52 wool sacks over 3 days. Oh and made breakfasts/made sandwiches/cooked dinner/pudding too – I felt like superwoman afterwards!
Well, Summer is officially over isn’t now, and Autumn is upon us – and I’m really okay with that actually. Historically I love Autumn. I love the sunny, crisp mornings you get when the leaves are turning! I also love Christmas, so Autumn brings the promise of festive plans creeping into the diary. Bring it on.
I’ll post another farm update at the end of October when we’ll be gearing up to tupping time and starting the whole crazy cycle again! If I have missed anything out and if you have any questions – DM me!