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My Farming Week: Nigel Gribble, Cornwall

Nigel Gribble farms 81 hectares (200 acres) near Launceston, Cornwall, with his parents. He keeps 80 cattle and also works as a shift manager at a food factory.

Work: I am due a short break from my other job at a food factory, so I have been planning a busy four days off.

 

But until then, it was just feeding/bedding cattle and managing anything urgent which appears.

 

On Sunday, I was up at 4.30am to check if any cows were calving before heading into work.

 

Monday meant making calling suppliers, which resulted in some strange looks in the restaurant when I was haggling over fertiliser prices.

 

I feed silage every other day, so Monday is ‘bales night’. I bed up with the chopper every night.

 

I do not know how I could manage without the chopper or JCB Loadall – they are not luxuries when time is at a premium.

 

Calving: I woke up tired for work the next morning and I got to the calving shed to find two feet sticking out.

 

I pulled the calf out on my own and put the mother and calf in a pen. I left Dad a note asking him to check it had suckled and then raced to work.

 

By Wednesday I was ready for a lie in, but the cows had other ideas.

 

I woke up to find two calves running around. Still, at least the Stabilisers calve easily and their calves had suckled. I spent the rest of the day top dressing the winter barley and silage fields.

 

Spreading: After months of rain, I decided it was time to spread muck on Thursday.

 

Thankfully, the cows were happy to allow me a full day and with the West spreader I managed to shift an impressive amount. The sun was shining, the radio turned up, singing along to Summer of ’69.

 

I rung my wife, Anna, to see if she knew where my shades were.

 

Friday – disaster. While I knew one shed door spring was weak, I thought it would be okay. Finding an empty shed in the morning told me it was not.

 

We finally spotted the cows in a neighbour’s stubble field, happily munching on volunteer barley shoots.

 

Saturdays never have enough hours for my liking. I needed a trip into town, had calves to tag and had to get the silage, straw and corn ready before my week back at work.

 

I dozed off in front of the TV before dragging myself to bed with the same feeling I had as a child on a night before school.

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