During the relative quiet of the early months of the year, we have a chance to recognise and consider the ebb and flow of farm life. The milk price has had more of the ebb than the flow about it for some time. Each announcement of a new price drop is more dispiriting than the last.

Meanwhile, we are not milking in a vacuum; time passes and equipment ages. In order to maintain yield, let alone improve on it, some equipment needs updating, whatever the milk price. Our rotary parlour comes of age at 18 years old this year, and desperately needs attention. Also Matt has been looking into redesigning our silage pits, which would mean building new ones to replace our current, and far from ideal, silage mounds. His plans would minimise wastage, increase quality, and simplify our process, with obvious long-term benefits to our yield, but they would of course also cost money to install. We are looking into soil filling options, but we also have a pending arrangement for soil fill, and long-standing plans to put up a new barn. It’s hard work trying to balance the long-term good of the farm, and the short-term (we hope) realities of an anaemic milk price.

Perhaps the only thing that is really flowing right now is the rain into our lagoons; they’re filling up steadily and we will begin slurry pumping soon. We are cutting back on maize area this year, and increasing red clover to balance up the ration and lighten the work of harvest and slurry spreading.

Our budget for this year is causing us some headaches. Though slight, we will appreciate the small boost to our litreage which comes from our Spring block. About 140 cows and heifers are due to calve in, and the income from the calves, a mixture of Angus and British Blues, will also be welcome.

We’ve just finished serving for the Autumn, and after receiving a boost in conception rates last year, when we moved the block back a month, our figures are a little deflating.

Still, though we are currently experiencing a distinct ebb, in revenue and spirits, we hope that there will be a flow to follow. There have been tough times in the past, and all we can do is try to make wise decisions concerning the long-term good of the farm, and trust that He who is faithful will do the rest.