February already. Time flies while you are having fun, or the older you get, the more time flies.
I think the former is probably not a phrase that comes to mind on a cold, wet winter’s day, but the appearance of snowdrops in the garden and daylight hours increasing gives us the optimism that spring is just around the corner, with hopefully no repetition of the ‘Beast from the East’ that arrived almost three years ago.
Trying to walk from the farmhouse to the cattle sheds in a howling blizzard, on yards that had turned into an ice rink overnight will stick long in the memory.
While we had a small break in the wet weather in the latter part of January, nearly 450 metres of new hedge plants were put in the ground on the farm by a team of contractors.
Back breaking work, even with the assistance of a machine that made a slot in the earth, and in less than ideal ground and weather conditions, but the end result has been admired not only by ourselves but also by the many walkers on their lockdown exercise routines.
With several new fences also being erected in the narrow working window by our fencing contractor neighbour, the farm has been transformed in a very short space of time.
With new boundaries created the farm will no doubt see an increase in insect and bird life, taking advantage of the flora and fauna. With the added benefits of creating shelter for livestock and a hedge’s ability to store carbon, the decision to go ahead with this project was an easy one to make.
As our hedges start to grow, sustainability in farming continues to be a hot topic and will continue to be so for many years to come, so it was rather ironic that having completed the hedge work on the farm, the only salad items that we could source for our meals from our local supermarket, came from Spain, the USA and Senegal.
If ‘Veganuary’ and similar campaigns are going to be taken seriously, there needs to be a considerable realignment of which food groups we really need and whether we can afford or physically grow within our own shores.
The facts remain, however, that we are under enormous pressure to change some of our farming practices, even though UK farmers set the standards for the rest of the world.
The start date for calving is not too far away now, so preparations are underway to welcome the next generation of pedigree Herefords to the farm.
While it is an exciting time for any farmer, whether it is calving or lambing, hatching or foaling, there is also a certain amount of trepidation involved, as so much time, energy and money has been invested to reach this point.
Having started my column with a couple of phrases, it seems appropriate to finish with one as well, and one which my friends and work colleagues will recognise – fail to prepare, prepare to fail. So on with those calving preparations.