I’ve been busy.

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/07/17/ive-been-busy/

I’ve been busy. Not farming busy – well a bit but not flat out. I’m aware that I haven’t posted anything for months but there has been a lot going on. Yes, we did our second cut of silage at least three weeks ago and 50 acres of haulage the next week which puts us a long way in front of last year or in fact most years.

If you think I’ve been keen on getting things done this year, there’s been a good reason for it. I got married on Saturday at the farm to my partner of five years, Vicky. There was a ceremony outside the house and rather sizeable party thereafter in a marquee in the field. It went swimmingly well and everyone seemed to have a great time So great in fact it was four a.m. before the last guests left which left us feeling a little weak the next day for the big clean up. Nevertheless we had an amazing day although it was a lot of work getting the place spick and span for such an event which has occupied us for the last few months.

It was only when we started tidying the place up when we realised the scale of the task ahead. Our large, creaky old house is constantly in need of attention and maintenance. Three was a months worth of sanding and staining to bring the windows and doors back to their best, let alone the huge amount of work that Vicky did with the garden which I had happily neglected for years.

The house and buildings do look a lot better for the work done and it goes to prove that a party every now again focuses the mind on getting jobs that tend to be neglected.

With the wedding behind us we are now travelling to Japan and are currently flying 8000 metres above Siberia with the sun setting behind us, en route to Tokyo.

I’ve spent the bulk of the journey with my nose pressed to the window staring down at the barren Russian wilderness. Its vast, empty, poor and fascinating. The sheer reach of it is quite breathtaking. We have travelled for 5 hours now and have passed over so much as a wooden hut. The utterly empty expanse is dark brown and littered with lakes that look like puddles from the air. The Barents Sea coastline is strewn with dark cold estuaries, splitting the land into barren streaks of mud.

Its grim but strangely beautiful. I can’t imagine how it would appear in the winter. It must surely be too harsh an environment to support even the most basic attempts at survival. But as  I write I can see the first signs of life as we pass over a town called Chegdomyn. Wikipedia tells me it has 13,000 inhabitants. Probably penguins I’d imagine. The average temperature for January is -33 celcius with an all time low of -46 celcius. Christ on a bike – that’s cold.

I’m going to go now as I’m feeling too tired to write. The lack of sleep over the last few nights is beginning to take its toll on my decision making. The stewardess has just passed me a glass of water and I’ve just tried to take the top off it. Need some sleep. Goodnight.

 

 

 

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Amazing grazing

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/06/13/amazing-grazing/

Well the badly needed rain stopped last week and the sunny weather has returned blown in by a warm south westerly wind. The temperature here yesterday topped out at 25c (75% humidity) yesterday at 5 in the afternoon. It felt hot to me and very uncomfortable. Those of you who read the blog from distinctly hotter parts of the world must wonder what the hell I’m going on about.

Well the average temperature here has been 8C for the last 2 months and that’s quite some change. The ground is hard, and the grass is leafy and clean. The energy levels are high in the grass from the sunshine and the cows are milking well for it.

This all sounds too good to be true and of course – it is. The downside of the extra milk is that my monthly milk quantity prediction for my milk buyer was over 10% off the mark which makes me a naughty boy. But unfortunately there is no naughty step for naughty boys in the world of dairy farming – only fines – or penalties as they like to call them which came to £1800 for May alone.

As milk predictions now have to be 3 months in advance and with a 7.5% accuracy, my chances of hitting the right volumes for May and June are not great. More pain in store.

 

 

 

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Silage time lapse

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/05/27/silage-time-lapse/

 

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And then came the rain.

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/05/25/and-then-came-the-rain/

With the risk of sounding like a complete smart arse, I can safely say that taking first cut a fortnight has been a good decision. While some people would say there is a large element of luck involved I prefer to think it as a complex decision based on the calculation of multiple converging criteria of varying quantities. Or yes, luck.

Which ever way you choose to look at it, things have gone pretty well since first cut. The job was done, sheeted and completed in 24 hours and the rain came straight after. It wasn’t a torrential downpour but measly trickle to start with. The forecast wasn’t predicting much but it just kept on falling.

 

The first showers brought 6mm of rain which was enough to revive the ailing pastures. Then a few days later as we applied cow slurry and fertiliser to the silage ground, more steady showers arrived. The rain carried on and off for the best part of a week and completely invigorated the pastures across the farm.

The 37 mm of rain that has recently fallen will keep the farm going for around a fortnight or so before more is needed.. The milking cows need around 30 tonne of fresh grass a day to satisfy their appetite – and then we need to grow winter forage too. Without rain the whole operation is stuffed.

This remarkable transformation shows just how critical summer rain is to our grassland operation. The two photos below provide a stark example of what happens with or without rain.

A grazing paddock on May 7th

And the same paddock on May 17th

Wow.

 

 

 

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Sad and Angry

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/05/23/sad-and-angry/

 

 

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