The Farm Gate

Easter Time

With the social calendar on hold during the lambing period, we’re now ready for the off again!

Phew! Lambing is over thank goodness. No real problems but five weeks of concentration for a very extended period is somewhat exhausting!

Despite everything, we can report a success story, numbers born, very low mortality and disease free throughout are very definite plus points. The adoption or milk replacement system has worked brilliantly with one lamb from every triplet and one from every young ewe being reared artificially, and all are currently doing very well – as are their mothers!

Ewes and lambs are now out in the fields although the recent snow and extremely cold spells meant bringing everything inside for shelter and management purposes. The freezing conditions gave a lot of problems with the water supply and days were spent just thawing pipes and watering livestock.

In my opinion, a farm is not really a farm without livestock! Very profound perhaps, as animals take a great deal of time and effort, and above all, detailed care and management throughout the year. But as I’m often told – we’re gluttons for punishment!

Looking ahead, it is probably right to reduce sheep numbers especially as their economics could take a downturn once we’re through the Brexit transition period and the threat of tariffs loom on our exports to the EU. There is plenty of time to get things right but perhaps I should refrain from these unplanned, sporadic sheep purchases just to ‘increase the genetic pool’ or some other nebulous excuse!

Grass growth on this exposed farm is never brilliant in early spring, and the cold weather has not helped this time. There is an argument for moving the lambing date further into the year to offset this risk, but we do not want to conflict with other farm work which is jostling for attention at that time of year, so it is very unlikely to happen.

On the arable side all work has been delayed by the wet conditions. Spring wheat should have been planted by now but there are still cultivations and seedbed preparations to undertake once everything dries sufficiently to get on the land with heavy equipment. In the short-term, we have managed to get much needed fertiliser onto the winter sown wheat and barley to goad them into life a bit more.

Refurbishment has recently been completed on one workshop and this is now let again. Consideration is currently being given to dividing a much bigger workshop into smaller areas to meet the demand for these smaller units.

A quick mention about Brexit must pat the Government on the back for progressing, marginally, with agreement on a transitional period which makes a great deal of sense. This is a start, so perhaps things can progress on a more constructive basis than they have been allowed to do before, both from the EU side and within the Government itself!

With little grandchildren and loads of birthdays at this time of year, Grandpa has to stay on his toes and not forget to ring up and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ on the allotted day! This has set a precedent, if not a tradition, our eldest is now 16 and he still requests the rendition!

Easter is here which means the chickens will be laying their chocolate eggs! Modern grandchild was heard to query last year – ‘why do the chickens lay eggs with a bar code on them Grandma!’ Answer that one!




























Highlands Farm, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 0QX

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