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In your field: Rachel Coates - 'Our scraper tractor is worth its weight in gold'

It seems to be the time of year for surveys. I have done the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Big Farmland Bird Count, noting that bird numbers are down.

One reason could be that the farm is a lot busier than this time last year, greatly walked footpaths and the milk hut in the farmyard accounting for much of that.

 

Of course another a big difference from 2020 to this year is the weather. A notable date in 2020 was the day we opened the milk hut on February 6, it was bright and sunny and other social media reminders indicate dry days as we were completing construction.

 

Yet, as I write, we are in anticipation of another Beast from the East.

 

On to another survey and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution questionnaire. It threw up a few interesting points of debate, one being how many close friends do you have? Facebook tells me I have more than 400 friends but as for close friends, it was difficult to put a figure on it.

 

Farming and time for friendship are not always compatible. Local non-farming friends probably become impatient with the many excuses for lateness at social events, having to leave early to check on a calving or falling asleep at the dinner table.

 

With farming friends, although distance is often an issue, when you do meet up it is easy to pick up from the last time because of a common bond. However, almost inevitably you fall into the trap of talking shop too much.


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Friendships are extremely important to us and this enforced isolation highlights once more the benefits of auction marts, breed societies, Young Farmers clubs, farming discussion groups and agricultural shows.

 

And that is not to mention other organisations important in rural areas such as Women’s Institutes and the like. May we all appreciate them more when we can.

 

Zoe and I have had a little flurry of Jersey heifer calves and I am absolutely delighted that, at the moment, about a third of the occupants of my calf hutches are ginger. However, not all in the family share mine and Zoe’s view and although we suspect he likes them really, Ben refers to them as ’grass rats’.

 

He has been busy winter clipping the herd, along with a professional team, so the cows are all spruced up.

 

Turnout still is quite a long way off and to add to the workload our elderly scraper tractor had a major breakdown. So the fact that gyms are closed did not concern us one bit as we had plenty of strength and stamina training.

 

I’m sure we are not the only ones who have a workhorse that is worth its weight in gold and is more vintage than modern. To quote the engineer who came to fix it, ’the newness is just wearing off’.

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