Farming, as a career, has always required courage and ingenuity by those involved and I am not sure in recent times that this has always been recognised. However, perhaps as the credit crunch bites a bit harder people will reflect a bit more on what they buy to eat and how it is produced. I hope this will develop into a new found respect for those that are coping with the double challenges of this awful weather and diseases such as Bluetongue and Bovine TB.
This long running spell of poor weather has also impacted considerably on the livestock industry as both hay for feed and straw for bedding are in very short supply, and the quality of the grass for grazing animals is also affected by the incessant wet and lack of sun. We have enough hay, straw and silage here but there are many farms, particularly those in the Upland areas including England, Wales and Scotland who do not. This will feel like a very long winter for all of us as we all feel we missed out on enough sun and it has been a hard struggle since July.
Nevertheless the days are so busy, and so long, that there is no time to dwell on the latest disaster as there is always another chore to do. This is what keeps Jethro and all the other farmers going.
On top of moving yet more grain around, and finally finishing harvesting the wheat this afternoon [at only 16 % moisture] the ewe flock were all sorted today into the ones to keep and the ones to sell. A top up dose of fly repellent was administered before they went back to the fields.
Later this week they will be sorted again into: the few ‘fatties’ to go on a diet with less grass and tighter grazing; the normal ones just turned back out into the fields; and the ‘thinnies’ to get some extra feed. All will be given a dose of wormer too. These vital elements of good flock management enable the majority of the sheep to be in the right condition for mating [tupping] in 8 weeks time. [NB: We lamb later than many sheep farmers on purpose to reduce costs and get the most from the spring grass.]
No year is ever the same and in truth probably no day the same either. An email message has gone around from the National Farmers Union and the RABI asking for farmers to help others in their area with either combining or drying corn. In this area we have not had it anything like as bad as many other areas. Some of the pictures posted on this page show just how the weather has impacted on harvest 2008.
Right now I know everyone would welcome a chance to draw breath and to know for certain that the weather was about to stay dry long enough to progress the work. Crystal ball anyone? Nevertheless wishful thinking must be better than being downhearted.