February began with a night of celebrations as my YFC club, Lowick, reached 60 years young. I am getting a bit long in the tooth to be an official ‘Young Farmer’ but I am still a Lowick member at heart.
It is nights like these which remind you what a fantastic organisation the YFC movement is, bringing together members past and present to reminisce and have a proper good do.
After a wet start to the month, a prolonged dry period has allowed us to get on with some vital drainage jobs. At Plumpton, the drains are important and farming at sea level means we have a number of challenging parts of the farm to look after. The drainage network on the farm is extensive and, as our grandad often reminds us, needs to be a top priority. We use a drain jetter to clean out blocked pipes; it is a satisfying feeling when you see water running freely again from those clay tiles after a blockage.
When you dig down through the soil it gives you appreciation of soil structure and what an effect panning can have. With machinery getting bigger all the time, there needs to be plenty of attention paid to the amount of ground pressure exerted on the land. Again, as grandad correctly says ‘big tractors won’t do those drains any good…’.
This month we have been planting thorns to rejuvenate some of the hedgerows as part of our Higher Level Stewardship scheme, and we planted 100 trees on our hen ranges to provide shelter for the birds. I am looking forward to seeing some thick healthy hedges in years to come and the trees on the range should be great for the hens and hopefully nice to look at.
The build up to lambing has started and the snacker has been out this month. Our ewes are as fit as they have been for a few winters, and the challenge will be managing this condition over the coming weeks. As ever, we walk a nutritional tightrope. Too little feed and there are problems, and too much brings similar headaches. Fingers crossed we stay on the tightrope.
Our pre-lambing routine includes the clostridial vaccine and a long-acting wormer injection which is the only worming our ewes receive all year. It works well, keeping the ewes and the pastures clean in spring. By the time you read this lambing time should be just getting going. Bring it on.