Saturday, 8 April 2017

Turn-out of Dairy Cows

One of the most important events in the dairy farming calendar took place today, the spring turn-out of the milking cows onto fresh grass in the sunshine.
After having been kept in their winter quarters since October and feeding on silage the joy of our stately ladies on being let into a field of grass is unbounded. They run and dance for a couple of minutes and settle down to the serious task of eating delicious fresh grass and we will notice a marked increase in milk production almost immediately and also a change in the flavour of the milk, it will become richer and creamier. Spring has sprung!

Another red-letter today was when the Farmer reported seeing the first swallow two days ago. The swallows have arrived early, they do not normally get here until about the 10th of the month and indeed the turn-out of the cows is early too. The season is rushing on and the oak trees are showing signs of coming into leaf well ahead of the ash, so...
'Oak before ash, we're in for splash
Ash before oak we're in for a soak.'
We shall see how accurate the old saying is as the season progresses; is there a dry summer to come? It is interesting to reflect on how many of the these old country sayings may be becoming redundant with climate change having such an effect on the seasonal round. The seasons are certainly not as clear cut as they were and with such mild winters and early springs the natural programming of the the trees and flowers must be affected. While the oak trees are beginning to send out little russet tufts of new leaves which blur their twiggy outlines the ash trees are reaching their tight inky, goth fingered buds up to scratch the skies and magpie nests are clearly visisble in the skeleton branches. Magpie nests are very distinctive being a massive basket of twigs with what looks like a hood or handle over the top. There seem to be great many of them around and we hear the magpie clatter along the hedges and dread that they will soon be feasting on the nestlings of the hedgerow birds while the parent sparrows, robins, tits sound frantic alarms as the pillaging magpies work their murderous ways up and down the hedges.

Lambing has almost come to an end and it is lovely to see the lambs out in the glorious sunshine that we are experiencing at the moment. We have had a very good lambing percentage and very few problems. The ewe that had the ceasarean last week is doing well and had taken to her adopted lamb quite happily.

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