Winter: January can be a quiet month for us.
With more than half the milking herd dried off, attention shifts to getting the calving pen in order, while the calf shed sits empty as we wait for the excitement to start next month.
It will not be until the middle of February that we really start to get busy with calving.
As this farm sits 183 metres (600ft) above sea level in northern Cumbria, grass growth can be pretty dismal until April but we will resolutely start grazing off any autumn-winter growth around Valentine’s Day, ever hopeful of an early spring.
To date we have had an incredibly mild winter, although as I write the forecast is blaring that ’the snow is coming’, and this will no doubt seal that fate.
Training: At this time of year, focus also turns to recruitment, as we look to find another candidate for our Farm Manager Training Scheme.
For the past two years we have offered a travel bursary to a young farmer looking to kick-start their career in the dairy industry, setting them up with employment on a leading dairy farm in New Zealand for 12 months, before they return to one of our Cumbrian farms to complete the second part of their training.
We provide £1,000 up front towards flights and visas, as well as ongoing training and mentoring.
Our previous two recruits have been loving their time in New Zealand, and one of them is due back to the UK imminently.
Opportunity: I have been so fortunate with both the support and opportunities I have been provided with in my short career; being thrown in at the deep end while working for some outstanding employers, having the chance to buy stock of my own and being able to travel.
None of this would have been possible without the encouragement and contacts of a couple of key mentors, and so I hope we can offer similar support to some prospective entrants to the dairy industry.
Future: For the future, I am searching for a farming opportunity of my own, ideally further south-east and closer to my London-based family.
I would love to take the 100 milking cows I currently own to a new farm which is perhaps looking to expand or, utilising the experience and support of my current employer, would enjoy converting a new unit to dairy.