Category Archives: Spring

24Hrs in Farming #Farm24

For the last few years herds of dairy farmers, flocks of shepherds and a whole coven of farmers wives have  Twitted, Blogged Inrtagramed and Facebooked about a whole 24 hrs of farming showing what they are all getting up to.

Today 9th August 2018 is this years #Farm24 day. What are we all doing this year?

Well for a start 2018 is turning out to be one of the most challenging years for decades in farmings never ending battle with the weather.  Following the wettest coldest spring in living memory, we jumped straight into the longest hottest dry spell ever. Some say farmers are never happy with the weather and there is a good reason for that. Every sector of agriculture needs different weather to the next,

From snow
From snow

Dairy farmers like a cold crisp winter to help keep animals health in the sheds as warm muggy damp conditions are only good for the spread disease such as pneumonia, but they like it to dry up in spring so the cows can get out to grass as early as possible, then they like a steady supply of rain in small doses with good sunshine to keep the grass growing all year.

Sheep farmers don’t like very cold snowy winters as the sheep live out doors and can get buried in snowdrifts and have difficulty accessing water if the pipes all freeze. Then they want a warm dry spring for lambing and a summer without too much sun and heat, and muggy thundery weather is a real bummer as this brings with it more cases of fly strike which I won’t horrify you with the details but its a very nasty thing to happen to a sheeps bottom!

to heat wave

Arable farmers like good snow in the Alps for their skiing holidays and warm beaches in the early summer for their beach holiday (only joking!!) but they need a wet warm spring to bring the good yields and to help swell the grain they then need a good long dry spell with strong sunshine to ripen the grain and let them harvest it all as dry as possible, moving on quickly to ploughing, re planting just before their next holiday!

The weather has played havoc with feed stocks already. Crop are yielding much lower and livestock are already munching their way through the winter feed as the the grass just stopped growing weeks ago. This has forced many beef and sheep farmers to sell stock early at lighter weights and as so many more are coming to the market prices have slumped so income from stock sales will be hit very hard and could be as much as 30% down.

Many farmers like ourselves have diversified into other activities and some of these demand different weather again. For us in tourism this year has been great as our guests have basked in Mediterranean heat with wall to wall sunshine. But spare us a thought on changeover days, running up and down that hill in 30 + degrees getting ready for the next guests, one constant job is checking the quality of the Ice cream sold in the shop. I need to sample a pot every few hours personally just to be sure!

So why not log on to all your social media today and see first hand what your farmers are upto.

Here are a few bits from us!

David

#Farm24 #Farmstayuk

A lot of time is spent in the office
working very hard!
Unloading lorry loads of straw by hand – better than going to the gym!
Checking on the sheep, who seem to have the right idea
Lovely weather to be a baby calf
The jobs are wide and varied, from PR to cleaning the bogs!

 

My, how they’ve grown!

Spring has given way to Summer and we thought you might like to see just how much our farm animals have grown in such a short space of time!

Our little Golden Top Bantum dutifully sat on some eggs for 21 days without a break and was rewarded by 3 of the 5 eggs hatchbaby chick hatchinging – one with a little help from David!

Just seconds old with wet feathers – but mother hen soon warms the chick beneath her fluffy feathers and hey presto all three chicks look all cute and fluffy just a day later!

baby chicks

The chicks are now just 6 weeks old and look at the difference in size!

growing chicksThe newborn lambs back in April  looked like their skins where too big for their bodies, but they have certainly filled out!

Lambcollage

The suckler cows have also been nurturing their calves, and now have the attention of Phil the bull so next years calves should be on their way… and so the circle of life continues!

cows and calves

Always something to see down on the farm!

Felicity

Lambing Live!!

Lambing time is here again, well it’s nearly over actually, but we’ve been too busy tending to the flock to blog about it. We have a small flock of about 25 ewes to lamb this year which are mainly Texel cross ewes, which produce a good butchers lamb.
There are some 32million sheep that graze the fields in the UK, comprising lambs, their mums – called ewes – and their dads, rams.

inquisitive number 9
inquisitive number 9

Depending on where you live, lambs are born at different times of the year. Traditionally, lambing starts in early spring but some farmers start in December whilst others are as late as April.
The amount of lambs born to one ewe varies. The average is 1.3 lambs per ewe but can be as many as five, although this causes problems as the ewe only has two teats to feed them. In such cases we have to take some of the lambs away to bottle feed them. these are called Cade lambs.
Some ewes deliver their lambs very easily so are happy to give birth alone in the field or in the lambing shed, but others, particularly first-time mothers, require a little extra help so farmers and their shepherds have to be on hand all day and night in case there’s a difficult delivery.

What Ewe looking at?
What Ewe looking at?

Here at Hoe Grange farm it all begins in the Autumn; as the old saying goes “Bonfire night tupping brings April fool lambs” . We put the rams in with our flock on Bonfire night and with our ewes and rams in prime condition it doesn’t take long for nature to run its course!
The weather was not too kind this year so we bought the sheep into a shed for lambing, as if the new born lambs get cold and wet they struggle to get up and feed and can die in those first few crucial hours. Inside the shed they are warm and dry, and it’s easier to check them in the middle of the night. However lambing inside has its disadvantages as the concentration of animals in a small area means more chance of catching bugs for the new-borns before the immune system gets strong enough to fight them off.

Get up lazy bones
Get up lazy bones

When checking the sheep, particularly at night, we always stop and listen before entering the shed as the noises the sheep make when starting to give birth are the best signs of imminent arrival. Once you disturb them, it takes their mind off the job and they go quiet.
Lambing normally goes on for about 6 weeks, although all ours lambed in 3 weeks this year so we were very lucky as getting up 2 times every night for 6 weeks can be exhausting.
Once born they are put into individual pens for 48 hrs to bond, feed and get going. Then they are let into small groups inside for 24 hrs before being turned out into the field if the weather is fine.
The best sight is a group of 20-30 strong healthy lambs all gamboling around the field at top speed in the sunshine. Time then to lean on the wall and wonder at the marvels of nature!

David

On look out duty
On look out duty