As it is my first diary entry for 2015, I think it is still okay to wish you all a Happy New Year.
This year got off to a busy start as we scanned the main batch of ewes. We were happy with our results, with 800 ewes scanning at 205 per cent. We had a higher percentage of twins this year compared to the last few years when our sheep managed to get to 200 per cent the hard way with a lot of triplets and singles.
We housed all our early-lambing ewes and the Texels this month. With the wild and wet weather we have experienced recently, they were all glad to be inside with somewhere dry to sit. It gives the ewes and the grass a break and I am always happy to get them in the sheds.
Our ewes are still in good condition and we are only feeding ewe rolls to the early groups inside. I am not sure how long this will last, but it makes a nice change from the last few winters.
We outwinter 40 of our Salers suckler cows and we brought them in to inject them for liver fluke.
Will Case farms 300ha (750 acres) in partnership with brother Simon and parents William and Margaret at Ulverston, Cumbria. Land is divided between Plumpton Cottage Farm, and Robbs Water Farm, near Burrow in Furness. They farm 1, 000 lowland ewes, 90 pedigree Texel ewes, 65 Salers suckler cows, fatten 150 bought-in store cattle and have 12, 000 free-range laying hens.
Often at this stage, we bring in a few leaner cows to have an easier time before calving, but they have all wintered well so far and all went back out. Salers cows do not seem to care what the weather throws at them.
Our hens have started the year laying very well and, as I write, I am making some new toys for the flock of younger birds. You may think I have lost the plot, but as part of our Freedom Foods membership, we provide hens with toys for them to peck at, rather than pecking each other. We have put some old Christmas tinsel into a pop bottle which is then hung from the ceiling for them to peck at and it seems to keep them amused. If only my children could be entertained so easily, then Christmas would be a lot cheaper.
Thoughts now turn to the year ahead and we have talked a lot recently about how fortunate we feel to have a number of enterprises on our farm. We feel this is the best way for us to manage volatility. Mixed farming has not been fashionable in recent years with farmers encouraged to specialise. Is it time mixed farming came back into fashion?
I had better get back to my toy making – Santa’s elves have nothing to worry about!