The results are in from our latest short interval TB test. We scored one inconclusive – from around 900 animals. This is hardly surprising, but nonetheless disheartening, confirmation that we will indeed be rearing over twice the usual amount of calves this year. The whole process was made even more grim when an agitated heifer, who was in the process of calving, broke her leg while trying to escape. Morale was not at its highest during that week.

Thankfully feedback in other areas has been more positive. We have been granted planning permission to expand our heifer rearing unit – just in time, and work will begin almost immediately. Also a meeting with our landlord, the owner of the building we hoped to use for our new beef enterprise, went very well, and the necessary adaptations will soon be underway. Our construction team have a very busy schedule this year, having just finished replacing many areas of concrete on the farm. Some of this concrete had been in situ for some 40 years, which sets a pretty high standard for our current construction projects. No pressure!

Our meeting with the vets at the beginning of the calving season was very positive, and we are pleased with our team of calf-rearers. Our staff are putting in many extra hours across the board, for which we are very thankful, and the new hands have enabled older ones to focus on more specialised tasks. Delegation is never easy, but it is the only means by which we are able to grow and improve. Matt now has more time to concentrate on the cows, and calving has been going well so far, he is also looking into ways of managing our cell count more effectively in preparation for our new buyers.

Liz has also been able to take a step back from the physical aspect of calf-rearing, which has allowed her to take on more in the paperwork area, and will hopefully ensure that calf-rearing, and general record keeping, will be better regulated than ever this year. This change in Liz’ work role is not unrelated to her impending new role in wider life, as in October we will be welcoming another, rather smaller, member to the Ford family.

This change in family situation has contributed to our decision to move our summer calving block back one month, to begin in the August of next year. This shift would put our grass to better use, as the periods when our cows are producing the most milk would more closely coincide with the seasons when they are housed, and fed a more regulated diet. This change would also help accommodate future summer holidays. Another happy benefit being that Matt will not be torn between his dedication to his new family, getting his cows back in calf, and actually shutting his eyes for more than 5 minutes put together, during the month of October. You may be able to detect the audible sound of relief!