Monday 10 November 2014

Cattle & Dogs

Most of the cattle are in for the winter though a few still graze in the somewhat soggy fields. Those that are in are fed silage each day and are bedded down with fresh straw. Feed barriers are the best way of feeding anumber of cattle at a time, each beast goes to a section and eats what it needs as as when it chooses. The smell of good silage and warm cattle is very evocative of winter on the farm

For some reason the Farmers's shadow, his working collie Mollie is being allowed into the kitchen these days and Dottie the terrier is somewhat miffed to find that Mollie can fit into her bed so is resigned to sharing though it is a tight fit.
Talking of dogs we lost our old labrador Poppy a couple of weeks ago. She was twelve and was suffering from liver failure. She had been a superb gun-dog and she & Younger Son whose dog she was, learnt everything together about beating and retrieving game. She was also a wonderful companion and the greediest dog imaginable which is quite something in the world of labradors!...her other name was Pig-dog! She was also Dottie the terrier's sofa, here they are in the summer both very comfortable in the sunshine.

Friday 7 November 2014

First Milk Dairy Farmers Meeting

Hawthorn berries gleaming like rubies in the almost bare hedgerows.

Yesterday the Farmer & I attended a meeting of dairy farmers who sell their milk to First Milk ( First Milk is farmer's co-operative and about 150 members from Wales attended the meeting held at Nant y Ffin (,LLandissilio in Pembrokeshire.
Chairing the meeting was Sir Jim Paice MP, chairman of First Milk & former minister of food.
The state of the dairy industry is fairly dire at present, not just in the UK but globally. Many farmers are being paid less than the cost of production for their milk and there is a drop in demand which has not been helped by the Russian embargo on UK dairy products. 2/3 of Europe's dairy produce was exported to Russia and without that market there is a massive over supply of milk & milk products in Europe. The price paid to dairy farmers is not going to improve until production and supply drops and demand goes up.
To reduce production is not a simple matter; when a dairy cow is put in calf the decision has been made for what happens with the cow in 5 years time when she will be in full milk production. Many farms are planning to expand but while the current low in the industry will eventually change, we all have to weather this difficult time. We are very fortunate that as organic producers things are are a little better in the organic sector but nonetheless the situation affects everyone in the dairy industry one way or another.
A final thought - 50,000 farmers & farm workers are employed on dairy farms in the UK. Next time you buy a pint of milk think about the many people involved in producing that pint.
For information on all things dairy see

Monday 3 November 2014

Autumn Fungi, Winter Preparations

This beautiful display of fungi was spotted on my walk with the dogs yesterday. I don't know what type of fungi they are but they are growing on the stump of a conifer and look just gorgeous, as lovely as any flowering plant in the garden.

Winter is definitely on its way... the Farmer & the Sons have spent the afternoon putting away the summer machinery. The mowers, tedders, balers & wrappers are now all neatly lined up in their shed for the winter, protected from the weather and out of the way of the farm activity over the next 6 months or so.

The Farmer has spent a lot of time lately processing firewood and we have a large shed now full of logs which is a most comforting & satisfying sight as the season gets cooler.
Today is the first really cold day we've had so far, the tweed coats were donned and gloves found to be necessary. There was a sharp-edged wind up in the top fields today which is very different to the too warm weather of last week which was all wrong for the end of October. The autumn is looking lovely with a number of trees retaining their russet golden leaves despite the strong winds of the last few days. We've also had heavy rain and the streams around the farm are now running well again after having almost dried up over the summer. As we are not on mains water it always good to see the streams running as it means that the underground springs that feed our water tanks are also running well. In a dry summer such as we have just had water does become a bit of an issue. We do have to be careful in our usage of water and the cows do have to take priority...they need about 10 gallons each a day, plus all the water required for washingthe milking parlour & dairy and the cooling of the milk. Wales is known for its rainfall but even here we have to be aware of how much or little we have at times.