We look ahead to 2014 with an air of determination, as we embark on the dance of the dairy farming year once more. As we begin to navigate this year there are many reasons for us to brace ourselves, and plenty of reasons for us to be positive.
Something that has already given us a hopeful outlook on this year is the conclusion of our miss-sold bank loan saga. It’s as if the Ford family have let out a collective sigh of relief, as we realise we’ve been holding our breath on this one for some time. Thankfully the outcome was a positive one, making our position more secure, and we are now starting to develop plans regarding projects which have been on hold for a while.
The cows are milking well, which is another reason to be glad. We are even hopeful that the weather will be on our side this year, as silage stocks seem to be disappearing fast, and we would love to turn the herd out to grass as soon as possible. We will also be jumping on the very first opportunity to start pumping slurry, as the lagoons are at full capacity.
Of course this dance that we do each year can’t be run on positivity alone, though it does make the performance more enjoyable. We were rudely reminded of the practical considerations of running a dairy farm over Christmas, when we were without power from 3am on Christmas Eve, until Boxing Day evening. Most of our holiday fun and games centred around resetting a tripping generator, followed by trying to install a borrowed generator when the first broke, and fixing the auger in the parlour which helpfully exploded during this process, due to a mistake in the wiring. Mix in a few missing staff members, due to bad weather and a car accident, among other issues, and you will begin to get a glimpse of the Ford family Christmas. In addition the first of our calves from the spring block decided to join the party on Boxing Day, three weeks earlier than planned. With a Christmas like that behind us, hard work can hardly be far from our minds, and the everyday farm routines and jobs look quite attractive by comparison.
Hard work and a clear focus will be key for this year, as we aim to brush up on our footwork in preparation for changing milk buyer. This transition has provided an opportunity for us to thoroughly review our practices, to identify areas where we have seen improvement, and others where we would like to see even more, and to establish new processes where necessary in anticipation for the hand over.
So, as we knuckle down into 2014, we are prepared for the challenges ahead, but hopefully we can retain a positive view of what’s been and what’s to come, even if it’s only evident in an occasional “Thank God for mains electricity.”