It only seems like five minutes since Christmas, but February is here.
As I write, the wind is blowing a gale from the east and it is absolute starvation outside. I am certainly not complaining though as it is doing a fantastic job of drying things up.
The weather has been relentless this winter and, as a Cumbrian, it is strangely comforting to know that most of the UK is as wet as we are.
I usually watch the national forecast and think ’not us again’. Right now we can all enjoy a good moan together.
This month saw the arrival of a new flock of hens in house two. They have weighed well and are 90g ahead of target weight, so hopefully they will continue to progress.
The clean-down was a little hectic as we had to juggle sheep work, building work and power washing, but thanks to a great team effort the job was done on time.
I regularly receive text message updates about the current bird flu situation and although we have not had the worries of last year, cases keep popping up in the wild bird population and every winter is a concern.
All our ewes have returned from their winter grazing.
They have been fluked and this year we are using a pre-lambing bolus to give the ewes a boost.
It will be interesting to see what difference, if any, the bolus makes this season.
Our new sheep housing is making grouping up ewes after condition scoring a lot easier.
Many of the ewes are in good order, but some are leaner than I would like. Being able to batch them up and house them is a welcome luxury this year.
Sometimes being a farmer feels like being under siege; last month it was the vegans and now Labour has decided to get involved.
The party is trying to wrestle the animal rights initiative from Michael Gove with 50 proposals on the subject, one of which aims to ’end the age of outdated farming practices which cause distress and restrict natural behaviour’.
They would also like to restrict ’mega farms’, whatever they are. I am not sure who decides what is outdated and exactly what constitutes a mega farm.
It is unlikely anything will come of this, but once again farming is used as a political football to point score in Westminster where long-term visions for UK farming seem to extend to the next press release.
Meanwhile, we will roll our eyes, keep grafting and dreaming up ways to make our farms a little bit more mega.