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In your field: Rachel Coates - 'Cold nights mean the calf jackets haven’t been removed just yet'

It must seem like In Your Field writers are obsessed by the weather as we always start off with a remark about it. Well, I’m afraid this month I’m following the same pattern.

I would like to say spring has sprung but unfortunately wintery showers keep reminding us that we are not quite there yet.

 

The latest loosening of restrictions reduced footfall into the milk hut over the Easter weekend, as customers ventured further afield, off to the Dales and coast or simply sat in friends’ gardens.

 

But last week’s inclement weather was obviously keeping people nearer to home and we seemed busier again.

 

Trying to predict trends and volume of sales is one of the trickiest parts of this operation; quite often we’ve got it very wrong and end up pasteurising not enough or far too much milk.

 

Cold nights and flurries of snow have put paid to discussions about calf jackets being removed; a washing line full of calf jackets has become one of my spring indicators. It is for the same reason we are not even thinking about turning the cows out just yet.

 

While I’m jealously watching turnout videos of dairy farms further south than us, patience is a virtue.

 

We have also still got a little bit of spring work to finish before that and the annual sorting out of electric fence equipment, usually left until the day before we need it. We’ve a few walls to repair that have suffered from the weather and fencing to renew.


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The council’s countryside service is putting up more signs and replacing a footbridge across a nearby beck, with our assistance, the idea being that well marked routes encourage walkers to stay on the path. However, the footpaths round here are so worn down they should be able to work out where to go.

 

I’ve noticed people are appearing to be a lot more positive about the future, compared to Christmas, and Easter is hopefully heralding new beginnings in more ways than usual. There is much discussion about the vaccine and conversations about which centre you went to and which vaccine you had are commonplace.

 

Anecdotally, I hear vaccine stories are the number one opening topic of conversions online. Stephen wears a badge of honour for being the last person in our hamlet to receive his first jab, taking this to be a sign he is the youngest and fittest. I can tell you we’ve all had a good laugh about that.

 

We are very aware that farming and farm retail have all been able to continue during the numerous lockdowns and many have flourished, so we are keen to support other sectors when they begin to open up. I’m very much looking forward to a shopping spree and sitting in a beer garden with a glass of something cold.

 

Sadly, there are still many unhappy events happening regarding Covid-19 and the long-term effects are not fully known. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite finished with us yet.

Thomas Carrick, who usually appears alongside Rachel Coates, was unavailable this week due to being in the middle of lambing. Simon Keeling, our resident weatherman, was away and will be back next week.

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