As you read this week’s issue of Farmers Guardian in the comfort of your warm home, spare a thought for Simon and I as we wake from a night spent bedded down in ‘le hotel cattle wagon’ at Kelso tup sale.
Late August and into September is always a busy time as we prepare for the breeding sheep sales. This year is no exception, but unlike the previous three years, we are not still struggling with silage and harvest.
As far as our farm is concerned, the summer of 2014 could not have been much kinder to us. After a terrific amount of grass growth in spring, first cut got underway a week earlier than usual for us at the end of May.
Our first cut was wetter than we would have liked, the lush young grass from our reseeded fields could have done with an extra 24 hours wilt which the weather would not allow.
We have silaged with the forage wagon for the first time this year after the decision was taken to invest in a Pottinger Europrofi.
We have always done our own silaging and our John Deere trailed forager was in need of replacement. The forage wagon was the ideal machine for us, requiring less labour and fuel. We have been managing to pick up 10 hectares per hour (four acres/hour) on a decent crop which we felt was not bad for two tractors. Second cut was largely done by the end of July.
Our barley has also enjoyed the favourable weather. We harvested at the end of July, yielding about three tonnes of grain with 6t/ha (2.5t/acre) of straw which we were happy with. We applied 17t/ha (7t/acre) of hen manure to grow the crop with a dressing of N in the spring. We try to make the most of what we have.
With all our winter feed gathered up without too many problems (for once), we head into the back end in good shape. Our lambs have performed really well and our cattle have had a great summer. It is just a shame the end price is where it is.
I write this before the start of the main breeding sheep sales. Our Texel shearling tups are on good form so if you are at Kelso and passing ring seven, come and take a look. We are late on so don’t rush.