There are times when the positives of the farming life seem to far outweigh the negatives; the freedom of the open-air office, the satisfaction of well-earned sleep after a physically tiring day, the advantages of owning, and really understanding, your piece of land or your herd of cows. These factors are not just positives, they are the privileges of our lifestyle.
However, there are times when the negatives are hard to ignore, and the advantages fade into the background. We won’t need to remind anyone of the persistently dismal bottom line, the milk cheque, which continues to cast a shadow over everything else.
We are in the thick of calving at the moment, which is always a busy time, but as we are running with one less member of staff than expected, some days we’re pretty hard pressed to get the basics done. We’ve unfortunately had a spate of cases of milk fever, and some very inconvenient problems with the water pump and the parlour. All this has led to a few very late nights, which really adds to the fun of early mornings! The rain hasn’t done much to lift our mood either.
We’ve just finished scanning the spring block, and we’re not overjoyed with the figures. We have 111 cows due to calve; 56 of which have slipped round from the Autumn, and 55 are from the original spring block. With 79 spring calvers served, 30% are empty, which is quite discouraging.
It’s not all doom and gloom however; we have calved 50% of the summer block in 18 days. There are 137 heifers on the ground, most of which were born in a three week window, which is a real advantage when rearing as a bunch. The maize crop is also growing well. So we pray for a brighter autumn, in terms of the weather, and we try to count our many blessings as we also pray for brighter prospects in general.