Saturday, 4 April 2015

Internet restored, Lambing, Cow Signs

After almost two weeks without phone and therefore without internet connection I am at last back in communication with the outside world! It is shocking how reliant we have all become on the internet...I would be unable to run the holiday cottage without it nowadays and the Farmer is now obliged to do all the VAT and much of our DEFRA 'paperwork' online. When the phone line is out of action we are completely stuck and have have to rely on the kindness of friends & family allowing us to use their wifi to enable us to catch-up with emails and general business demands. It was a deeply frustrating couple of weeks. Anyways it is all fixed now and we are back to what passes for normal.

Lambing is now well underway and going well. The weather has on the whole been very good, though these last couple of days we have had strong winds and it is cold. The wind is great actually as it dries out the land very quickly which is always a good thing. Today we have glorious sunshine which is perfect for lambs.

A couple of days ago the Farmer & I attended an OMSCo ( meeting at which we listened to a talk called 'Cow Signs' given by vet on how cattle indicate that they are unhappy. It was simply fascinating. Farmers always keep a close eye on their cattle, and dairy farmers even more so but we learned a great deal from this talk. Housing in very important and the good layout of cattle sheds is vital. All the cows should be able get to water troughs without being blocked by the 'big mama boss cow' meaning that there should be no dead-ends in a shed but free access all the way round, whilst seeming obvious it is not always the case. Also cows like to drink from smaller troughs rather than large ones. Another interesting part of the talk was the section on cubicles. Many dairy cows have beds, with mattresses very often, in rows like a dormitory, each bed being divided from its neighbour by a metal barrier. This is a cubicle shed. It seems that the shape of the barriers plays a part in how content a cow is by giving her sufficient room to move easily as she gets up from lying down. A full grown cow needs a space of about 8feet in length in order to be able lunge forward to stand up. If the cubicle is too short or the dividing barrier is a bad shape she had real problems which can over time result in her damaging herself with the further result that her milk production is affected as she is an unhappy cow. Many of these things can be corrected very easily, fortunately with out great expense.
Much of what was said was very obvious but as with so many things when you are dealing with them on a daily basis some aspects of the work can be overlooked or taken for granted until they are pointed out by an outside voice.

We have had friends staying for the last couple of days and this morning we all went to Cwmtydu beach to walk the cliff path. It was superb. Though there was a cool wind the sun was shining, there were clear blue skies and Cardigan Bay was looking its best with the headland at Cardigan to the south and the curve of the bay to the north visible through a pearly haze. Perfect Easter weather.

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