It was Open Farm Sunday last weekend, a national farm open day organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) who I work for. Having not rained for 3 months, it then decided to all day on Sunday! Our landlords the Earth Trust had worked really hard to put on a great event, but sadly the weather put a lot of people off coming. We had heard other farms still had great events despite the weather.
The rain will certainly help the grass to grow but we now need some dry days for haymaking! We have a contractor on stand by who is ready to go when we think its safe to do so, if we are unlucky with the weather then cutting the grass for haylage is an option. Haylage is produced through cutting good quality grass - but instead of allowing it to dry completely it is baled when the grass has wilted and the moisture content reduced to about 40 - 45%. The bales are then compressed to half their original size, packed and heat sealed into plastic bags. Natural fermentation inside the bag preserves the grass as haylage - which retains 90% of the feed value of fresh grass. So its not a bad alternative really, only that we are then left with all the plastic to recycle, which is an extra job!
The rain also means that the lambs are more susceptible to build up of a heavier worm burden inside their intestines as the warm, damp conditions provides an ideal breeding ground for the worm larvae in the grass fields. We use a microscope to monitor the egg count in their poo. If we find over a certain number of eggs this means we will need treat the lambs. Roly spent all of Monday doing this and yesterday treated the lambs whose number of eggs justified it. This approach means that we are only treating them if it is absolutely necessary, which obviously is important for welfare reasons to avoid resistance to the treatment, the time it takes to bring them in and administer the treatment and finally, financially too, as it is expensive!
Our new season lamb is now well underway and we are about to start selecting some lambs for market from our March flock. They have thrived during the amazing weather and will continue to do so now that the grass is growing too. It is about this time that the ewes begin to feel a bit fed up! Having bigger lambs which they are still supporting is hard work, particularly for those ewes who are raising 3. So weaning won't be that far away, weaning is when we take them off their Mum's so they are just eating grass.
Molly is now 5 months old and is going through her own weaning process! It won't be long before she is tasting her first bit of lamb!
Belle is working hard and at the moment on 3 legs! Poor Belle, she hurt her foot, we think it is from jumping over a fence. She has been on a course of antibiotics and seems much better and is putting some weight on it now. We can't afford for her to have a sick note!
Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle