Monday, 6 December 2010

Ice Ice (and) babies!!

To state the obvious its cold, real cold.

So winter feeding has begun and I am throwing straw and hay around far far earlier than I expected, unfortunatly we left plenty of grass to keep the cattle grazing for another month or so, but under snow its not much good!!

So sheep have arrived at Church Farm for the first time, we have 20 Wiltshire Horns, 2 Jacobs and 10 Suffolk crosses ewes. I can see another steep learning curve approaching but so far so good!

Nine months ago Spud was sent to have his wicked way with the heifers and autumn calvers. In my head I was picturing a sedate set of calvings with the last of the autumn grass and an occasional ground frost. Instead snow on the ground and a fortnight of freezing!! We have had two calves to date, the first was a heifer but it failed to break out of it birth bag when it was born, Fliss came to the rescue and tore it of the head and saved the day, good girl! Next calf was a bull and needed a tug to get it out, all hands on deck, thanks to Mum, Dad and Fliss new bull calf has landed.
Super Gav, wrapped up warm (before the freeze, I havent been able to tempt him out of the workshop since, not good with cold is Gav!)

Jake is awesome (but teething and screaming at peculiar times!)

Friday, 15 October 2010

See its easy!!

To keep the ball rolling on this blogging thing I thought i'd share this, always watch it when I think the job is too difficult!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

3 months in pictures.

So a whole lot of workin' an' not of lot of blogging has been the story of the last few months. So i have grabbed a few pictures of what has been going on at Church Farm. I spent most of the summer in my fabulous (wife says that might be a bit camp for a farmer but I'm sticking to it!) hire tractor from Evergreen tractors. I hire a 120hp tractor every year and this year Harriet from evergreen kitted me out with a 6430 with the auto-power gearbox and nearly every extra out there. What makes this tractor so good in a nutshell is that all the controls are literally at your fingertips and you can command power and precision with the slightest of movements. The tractor is fully automatic so no clutch work. Working with a top of the range tractor with my very capable baler i was producing one bale of straw every 45 seconds. It was a very sad day when i had to return the 6430, in fact its bringing a tear to my eye reminiscing!
From tiny calves -
- mighty steers do grow.

 Over summer we have had three steers finish and go to slaughter, including my first born (calf not son) Mason. When we slaughter we round up the beast the night before and bring them into the yard for the night. The next day I load them onto a trailer and they travel 4 miles to local abattoir arriving at 7.30am and they are processed by 8.00am. Mason had the honour of providing the meat for my sisters wedding to her long term boyfriend Oli. During his speech to friends and family he recounted the origin of Masons name, it happens to be my biggest professional gaff since owning cattle and something i hoped would stay private but no such luck. As he told them I'm going to tell you. The cattle arrived on 1st March 2008, 15 in calf cows and some young stock, on the 10th March when checking the stock on my wife's birthday i spotted a brown blob in the middle of a 45 acre field. It was a horrible day, sleeting with a NE wind so i rounded up mum and calf and forced it on't'tit. Now for the embarrassing bit. I turned the calf over and spotted 6 pink nipples or mini udders and therefore announced to the family that the first heifer had been born and was called May (my wifes maiden surname) and we were all right chuffed. A few months later Dad and I were checking the stock and he noticed that May was peeing out the middle not the back and uttered the embarrassing statement, funny looking girl boy! So Mayson was born. Safe to say i am always on the look out for a ball sack now!

My sisters wedding was just fab and a really good family day on farm. She has got lots of images on her blog and is well worth a look. This cracking picture was taken by the very artistic Katie.

I also reached the big 30, time to start pushing on the farm before i start getting really old!

Of course this little one has kept me busier than all the others combined!!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Good excuse!!

So i have returned to the land of blog at long last!!! As you can see the last post was on 30th May when Sparkle came into the world. You can just see the wife in the discovery dutifully taking pictures and as always being there just in case! What you cant tell from the pictures is that she was nine months pregnant and had lower back ache! I think you can guess whats coming,

this is Jacob who was born on the 31st May and is nothing short of awsome. He has settled in really well and Fliss and I are having a fabulous time being parents.

He has changed so much already and is growing at a rate, he came out at 6lbs 9oz and is now 9lbs 11oz which is one hell of a liveweight gain!!

Obviously life on the farm has not stopped. We have got half the hay land made and stored in all the sun shine and a new field 90% fenced.

Well thats the reason why i haven't been blogging but I am looking forward to doing a set on the next hay field i make, got plans!!!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bawsey St James Sparkle.

Went out with the wife this morning to check the cattle and one of my older girls had feet coming out of the rear end. With calving cattle out, when i find one which is obviously getting on with it but hasnt managed it yet i tend to have a cup of tea then get stuck in!! So Cow Catcher on and get her restrained

You Can just see the feet appearing, I lubed up and  had a feel. The calf was coming out the right way and it was one of those times when nature probably would have taken care of it but a quick tug and sparkle is born!!


A cracking start to the day and 5 mins later she was up and suckling, awsome!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Its time to get legal.....

Did you know that if you past your driving test after 1 Jan 1997 then you have to do a seperate test to tow a trailer over 750kg, basicly anything of note.

So Gavin and I are off today to take our driving test, learner plates attached and driving at ten to two!!! In the immortal words of Danny Glover "I'm getting to old for this shit" (If that doesnt age me nothing will!)


All done!! Gavin and I have both passed and as a highly competitive chap i was very pleased to get fewer minor faults than Gavin.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Cow catcher,

Hello blogging world, I have finally got all the DEFRA paperwork done and I am now able to share a bit more about the farm.

One of the wise old sayings that my Dad uses is "the only difference between man and boys, is simply the size and cost of there toys." So very true and one of the very useful toys we reacently invested in was a cow catcher. 

As you can see its is mounted on the fore end loader of the tractor. The front can open using hydraulics but I have found the most effective way is to bring it down over the top of the beast. Last night Dad and I checked the cattle and one had weepy eyes, so she needs catching and eye drops. Before this machine I would have had to build a pen and try and seperate her out from the other 65 and I would have definately needed several people helping. All in all it would probably have taken a good 2hrs.

So here she is all caught up in the pen and secure. I drove onto the field and had her caught in 3 mins. The pen contains a simple crush which swings round.

Ropes then hold her in

and I force her head through a yoke. Then its easy to get the halter on.

I can now administer the eye drops safely and easily.

All in all the job took 10 minutes and she just walks out the front door!!

This bit of kit has got me out some serious muddles and saved alot of time. Its a bit of a luxury, but only as much as a loo seat I could live without it but it would be a pain in the arse.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

It just gets worse.... ****ing RPA

I have finally been brave enough to really look through the SP5(form for claiming subsudies) and my new set of maps and they are riddled with mistakes. We have had so many alterations of fields on farm over the last few years which have coincided with changes in the goverment agency that produce farm maps. The rural land register are having to re-map every acre of land to bring us in line with the rest of europe to process payments. They first sent me a set of maps back in 2009 which were so wrong it didnt even resemble our farm, in fact alot of the fields wernt, they were in Yorkshire. So I sent the maps back with the set i already had and told them that the set i have is right so change them!!! Me and about 5000 other farmers have then heard nothing, without the maps it is impossible to know exactly what size the goverment think your field is. So irritating.

Dad has found a novel solution with the power of the iphone. He has downloaded an app which tracks where you are and measures the area inside your markers. So with an iphone and a small garden tractor hes off, Robert Hancock for prime minister I say, you can solve anything with an iphone and an app!!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The fens have never looked so good!!

I got the most amazing treat on Monday. A good friend and i were meant to drive to Rugby and to cut a long story short we went by helicopter.
To fly at 1000 feet across the country was a real honour. To see farms from the air and the quality of what farmers achieve is amazing. Rape has obviously taken a battering over the winter with all crops looking thin and pigions are taking advantage, they seem even more obvious from above! Seeing what our industry achieves made me very proud to be a farmer.

There were signs everywhere of environmental stewardship, with skylark plots and field margins mostly. With the knowledge that farmers have of there own land and the environments it surports I really hope that we get behind the campaign for farmed environment. Finding an alternative and environmental use for marginal unprofitable land is good practise as all farmers know that its nature that allows us to produce food. The more that we suport nature the more she will do for us.

Years of driving through the fens on difficult congested roads coupled with the bleak landscape have left me with very little love of the place. Since flying over it and seeing the beauty and the craftmanship that goes into food production in a very productive area, it was very very impressive.

Coming into land I managed to get a few pictures of the farm from the air which I thought i would share.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Busy busy!!

Monday morning has arrived and all of a sudden i am looking at a mountain of work!!! At least i have this to list it all out and record what i've managed to achieve!

Firstly its time to fill in my SP5 form. For non agriculturalists this is the subsidies from europe so we can grow cheap food. Unfortunatly it represents more of my turnover than i would like and this year the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) have thrown me one hell of a curve ball!! In the infinate wisdom of these bureaucrats we had to re map the farm to come in line with europe. I received my new maps on Saturday and was correct in my assumption that they are utter bollocks, instead of being a 20 min job it is looking like hours of time is going to be spent correcting there mistakes and praying that i dont make any resulting in a fine. Would a new goverment do any better??

I am selling more hay now than i have been all winter as the lack of growth has caught many on the hop.

The cattle all need rounding up and vacinating against this and that and testing how many of my November calvers are pregnant. 

I have two small streatches of fencing to do with my new fencing machine.

Time to stop typing and start working, first things first tidy the desk!  

Thursday, 22 April 2010

An introduction...

So here we are my first foray into the world of blogging. First things first i need to thank my little sister for setting all this up for me!! She really is super talented and you can see her blog here.

I am very fortunate to be a young(ish) farmer based in Norfolk working the family farm. I have a herd of cattle a few pictures of which i have put below,

they are Red Polls which are the regional native breed of Norfolk. I started the herd in 2007 with 50 head and now have 116. All the male stock are fattened and sold to a local bucher at around 2 years old and the heifer calves stay in the herd.

The plan is to keep increasing the herd and I look forward to blogging about the ups and downs of this journey.

I hope that this blog will give me a chance to vent my opinions on all things agricultural and to share the process of the life of a Norfolk farmer.