January is the month of anticipation and preparation. We have been drying off more cows. Drying off, simply put, means we stop milking them. By this time of the year they are in late lactation and their daily milk production has reduced. We use a teat sealant to stop any bugs, which could cause infection, getting into the udder during the dry period. The dry cows are grouped together in straw yards and fed hay and silage. Dry cows are notoriously naughty – somehow with more time on their hands they find ways to break water troughs or escape from their sheds!
We also have the youngstock on the farm. There are 52 Friesan x Jersey heifers, who will grow up to join the herd in Spring 2021, and about 75 Aberdeen Angus beef calves which will be sold in the spring.
We have been getting calf sheds ready for the busy calving season. We make sure they are clean, and bedded down ready for the new arrivals. We also make sure all the feeding equipment and calf coats are nice and clean, and remind ourselves of our protocols for dealing with calving cows and newborn calves. We are really looking forward to the days lengthening and the new lives and signs of spring that will soon be appearing on the farm.
We have hosted a Wwoofer from France, Ambroise. He has helped with the milking and getting things ready for calving. He will be with us until the middle of February, and when he leaves we have a couple more WWoofers lined up to help with the busy calving period. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunites on Organic Farms. It is an international organisation which matches volunteers with host farms. Wwoofers come and volunteer on the farm and in return we give them bed and board. Over the last year we have hosted WWoofers from New Zealand, France, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, America, Japan, Austria, and even Wales!