No longer had I finished writing my last article saying how good the weather had been and it took a dramatic change.
The old saying ’if March comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion’ was certainly true this year. We had to stop drilling for almost three weeks due to the wet, cold and even wintery weather we had.
Thankfully, the second week of April has been much better, with warm temperatures of up to 18degC and drying winds. This has encouraged the first spring barleys to emerge and although I am scared to say, they look great despite having taken almost four weeks to appear. The new drill has certainly made an excellent job and the fact both the seed and fertiliser is switched off automatically at every end has cut the overlapping to virtually nil.
The demo Lemken Karat 9 cultivator has done an unbelievable job in both ripping out and levelling the huge tracks left in our heavy land after last year’s wet harvest. In order to make the brilliant job it did in one pass it had to work at about 350-450mm deep and travel at 10-14kph, which required one of the Fendt 939s in front of it.
We then ploughed all of this land ahead of the power harrow drill combination. The field of light land which I only gave one run with the Karat and followed with the power harrow drill combination has emerged well, but we missed the timing for an application of pre-emergence herbicide and I fear this will cause us problems later as far as meadow-grass is concerned.
I must correct a statement which I made in my last article. I stated the EU are implementing new rules that we must not cultivate or drill within two metres from the centre line of any hedge; this is not correct and in fact it is our own Scottish Government which have made this crazy rule.
Lambing has gone well and the timing of rams going out was almost perfect meaning daughter number two has practically lived at one of the out farms during her Easter break from school and assisted with daytime duties which has been a big help.
Grass is now starting to grow and the recent week of good weather has been better for both lambing and calving, allowing mothers with their newborns to go outside straight away. This is also helping with our straw usage, as it is disappearing fast. We will have to purchase more because the gilts from our pig unit, which are sold to other breeders as replacement gilts, are reared in straw courts and will require straw until harvest.
I am continuing to buy feed barley weekly because the huge boats being loaded from the north of Scotland mean the price can fluctuate. I am unsure if I should be in the marketplace to secure enough to see us through to harvest or wait to see if the market falls. January-March pool wheat has been moved off farm and I eagerly wait to see the final price. It is so disappointing our wheat now has to travel 150 miles south instead of being used locally because our local grain distillery has never changed back from using maize since wheat took a price hike almost two years ago. I still have 10% of last year’s wheat to sell, which will be sold between now and July in order to allow the buildings to be cleaned ready for harvest.
As well as being kept busy with calving duties, our pedigree stockman has been busy preparing our entry of four females and one bull for a special Simmental sale in Carlisle. This will be the first time we have taken a bull to a sale over the border.