All the hallmarks and forebears of a good summer give way to what has been a challenging hay-time, an old tractor gives cause for concern and summer calving gets off to a good start, albeit short lived…
Every year we wait for the first curlew to appear and mark this on the calendar, likewise the first swallow arrives and again gets recorded, this is not something we use to build a record of arrivals but rather something we have that spurs us on with a little confidence and hope that summer is just around the corner. Well what a start we had, curlews earlier this year than last (what was that about a record?) and swallows soon after, add this to what is becoming a yearly pattern of May gifting us with some fantastic weather and the excitement builds – only trouble is in our organic system we cut rather late, and once everything has gone to seed. This allows all our migratory visitors to rear their offspring and makes sure everything has fledged – so this fantastic May weather is a welcome distraction but one that has us frustratingly waiting for seed to set and wondering how long the spell of weather will last. Once ready to cut with all the late flowers like Meadowsweet gone to seed our almost thrice daily ritual of watching three separate weather forecasts commences and the Atlantic lows keep on arriving.
To say this year has been a difficult hay-time is somewhat understated, not a whisper of hay in the barn but a lot of expensive wrapped haylage sat outside, and you could say that even some of this has been on the wetter side of damp. We console ourselves with the knowledge that at least we got it in and at a great quality considering the conditions, even if we are still smarting from the cost of wrap.
Now we have a rather old girl here on the farm (not referring to one of our ladies here) and at a spritely 21 she is only marginally older than our oldest cow. This particular lady is a rather worn out 100HP tractor that we keep promising to replace once she finally gives up the ghost. Only trouble is she seems to just get better year on year, even when Nephew Sam sent out a distress call from bottom meadow to bring spanners as the engine is dropping from the tractor… a few turns of spanner and as good as new she is. It only goes to focus the mind as to perhaps how well some things were built when comparing them to the complex modern electronics of today, we cannot now even change gear with a stick but rather have a button instead!
On a perhaps more serious note we had recently one of our older ladies calve and although birth and all thereafter were normal she managed to keep pushing until she prolapsed – now an ovine prolapse is something and does need a firm hand, the bovine variant is altogether more complex, upon discovering said lady at around 6 am on a Sunday Ian calls Emma for assistance – Emma having now abandoned milking lands up and Simon the vet (Sunday call-out, ouch!) finds his way to our patient. During what we can only describe as the heaviest of torrential downpours, a lot of pushing, shoving and general heaving, saw said prolapse reinstated and one lucky lady back on her feet within 40 minutes! Simon quipped that it must be serious having arrived to find the parlour abandoned with cows awaiting milking. The not so helpful statement from Simon was “that things like this generally happen in 3’s”, Ian’s reply was that so long as the bill only came once we would manage!