We’re well and truly into calving season at the farm. Our first calf, Minnie (so called because she was!), arrived at the beginning of September and 99 more have arrived since. We’re expecting 160 by mid-November. Of the 100 calves born so far we have 70 Friesan heffers thanks to the use of sexed semen.
We’re growing our dairy herd and we are busy constructing a new dairy on the farm. The dairy is a New Zealand design (chosen for its simplicity), and we had a team of six New Zealanders with us this summer constructing the main build. The equipment is being installed now and the dairy should be ready in the spring.
Long since forgotten for many now, we continue to feel the impact of the hot weather on the farm. We struggled for grass to feed the cows (production was down 40%) so reduced milking to once a day. This helped both to reduce the amount of feed the cows needed and to maintain good fertility as the cows put less energy into milk production. We’re already feeding cows on our winter forage and are holding out for a good spring so we don’t run out of feed.
Our newly planted trees on the agroforestry project took a hit in the hot weather too and we lost a number of saplings. But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been and we put that down to the moisture in the healthy soil they are planted in. And whilst it was by no means a bumper harvest we did have our first crop of almonds and some other soft fruits – a glimpse of things to come.
And because we didn’t have much else on, we’re helping out our organic neighbours manage their land and have moved our beef herd and sheep over to Sheepdrove in Lambourn. This has freed up space for our bigger dairy herd so there is method in our madness!
Never a dull moment….