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All things seem possible in May

So said Edwin Way Teale, apparently.


It certainly feels that way this year. After a challenging start to the grazing season with snow in March and a lot of rain in April, May has pulled it out of the bag with some lovely sunny days. The hedgerows are full in leaf and bursting into flower, and the bluebells and other wild flowers are filling the woodlands and hedgerows.



May is the time we start breeding the cows again, so that they will begin calving in late February next year. Did you know a cow is pregnant for approximately 9 months, just like a human? For the first seven or eight weeks, we use artificial insemination which allows us to choose which cows produce the Friesian heifers which will enter the herd in three years time. After that we introduce our Aberdeen Angus stock bulls, to 'sweep up' any cows which haven't got pregnant in the first eight weeks.


We also finished calving, with the last calf, coincidentally, being born on the first day of breeding. The oldest calves, at almost four months old, are just about to be weaned off milk onto a diet of grass and corn. They have been happily learning to graze out in the paddocks for more than a month and now we gradually reduce the amount of milk they receive so that they get used to relying on the grass and corn for their nutrition. Despite the wet spring they are growing well and we will monitor their growth by weighing them regularly throughout the year.



Some of the Aberdeen Angus beef calves have been sold to grow on other farms, leaving us with around 30 or so to rear on ourselves.


As I write, the forage harvester and tractors and trailers are busy harvesting our 'first cut' of silage, which will be feed for the cows next winter. After being mowed, it is 'picked up' by the forage harvester and chopped and blown into trailers, and tipped in a pile. A tractor drives over it continuously to squash the air out of it, and when all the grass has been harvested, which can take at least a day, it is covered with a thick sheet of black plastic to 'ensile' which is a bit like pickling.



One of the joys of lighter evenings is the chance to take a walk through the fields and woodlands before the children go to bed. I recently downloaded an app which identifies bird song. We are constantly surrounded by birds and their song but I must admit that beyond a blackbird and a swallow I couldn't identify anything! So I was amazed on a recent walk that the app picked up over 15 different birds!


As May gives way to June, mating will continue, we will make more silage, and hopefully the grass, and calves will continue to grow.

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