The mild and wet winter has had a number of effects on the crops. For one, creating a good seedbed this year was more difficult than usual, as there was little freeze-thaw during the winter to break up the ploughed land. This meant that we were not working with nature and had to use more power hungry cultivations to force a good seedbed. Another effect of mild, wet winters is that crops have no reason to grow deep roots as moisture is available to them near the surface, this means that if the spring is dry (as it has been so far) the crops struggle as they do not have such an extensive root system. Nonetheless, the sugar beet drilled in late March have emerged well, but would benefit hugely from 15mm of rain.
Calving is almost over, with just 5 calves left to be born. Most of the cows and calves have been turned out to grass and the bull has been turned out with them meaning it is just over 9 months until the start of next calving (the gestation length of a cow is 283 days). The main stock bull, Kersey Ebony, is a home bred British Blue, he is very docile, but if you walk through the field near him please take care - he weighs 1,100kg!
With lambing completed the ewes and lambs have got off to a good start thanks to the ideal grass due to the early and warm spring. We have begun preparing sheep ready for the showing season, the first show is the Hadleigh Show on the 17th May (www.hadleighshow.co.uk) where I am stewarding cattle. This is followed shortly by the Suffolk Show on the 28th- 29th May and the Tendring Show on the 12th July. We planted some fodder-rape for the sheep to graze on, we spent the morning of Easter Monday covering it with fleece to protect it from flea-beetles, rabbits and pigeons.
The quail business is still going strong, we have just had our 3rd hatch of the year, it was a moderately successful hatch. Sales of live birds for people who want a few quail to produce eggs are going well.
Farming term of the month: Bullock- a male cow that has been castrated and is raised for beef, also known as a ‘steer’