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In your field: Mike Harris - 'Spring has sprung although the northerly wind is nagging'

It is very difficult to avoid the obvious topic that is the lack of rain which is now at the forefront of most farmers’ minds. No matter where you are in the country at the moment, we all seem to be in the same boat.

More worryingly than the previous three droughts though, this current dry spell has started earlier in the year and with temperatures low enough to stifle plant growth.

 

Looking out on the fantastic view that we have from our farm towards the Jurassic Coast, we can see plenty of freshly cultivated fields ready for this year’s new maize crop. You have to admire us farmers for our blind faith that the rainfall will come.

 

While it may be colder than usual, with a persistent nagging northerly wind, spring has most definitely sprung in Dorset.

 

It is always a very welcome sight to see the first swallows arrive back on-farm from their long journeys. The bench in the workshop does, however, come under fire, as the swallows always choose to nest directly above it, and I haven’t got the heart to block the access holes above the doors.

 

We have also heard a fleeting call of a cuckoo. Earlier than normal, I fancy, and unfortunately becoming an all too rare sound in the British countryside.


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At the beginning of April we had our Red Tractor farm assurance audit, which was carried out remotely this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. As with many tasks in life, the preparation and thought of the event was actually worse than the actual assessment day.

 

The internet connection on the farm held out long enough to allow an online walkabout to check on such aspects as the cattle handling system and the cleanliness of the livestock trailer. Then it was back in the house to go through the ever increasing file of paperwork.

 

There was a faint whiff of the goalposts being moved from the previous years’ assessment and three minor ‘non conformances’ were brought to my attention. A site plan of the farm buildings with rat bait areas that we don’t use because of the poison risk seemed a little on the obtuse side.

 

Another online event this month that was more enjoyable to take part in was viewing the Hereford Cattle Society inaugural sale at its new venue in Shrewsbury. Prices achieved were extremely strong, with the heifer section doing particularly well.

 

It was also pleasing to see several lots making the journey to the South West to their new homes. Hereford cattle have always had a good following in our part of the country and that trend seems set to continue.

 

One bull which I had my eye on from the famous Haven herd did not travel in our direction though and instead made his way to Ireland. At least the grass will be growing better for him in that part of the world.

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