In farming, spring officially starts on the 1st of March. This is because normally ground temperatures, daylight and rainfall generally reach levels where grass growth becomes possible. This year is the exception. Ground temperatures have been consistently above average and rainfall below average all winter with the result that the grass has been growing almost every day since Christmas. The birds are singing every morning, the daffodils are out. The primroses are visible behind the ditches as are the snowdrops around the bases of the oak trees.
They say that the cattle know when the time is right to leave their winter housing and go out into the fields after the winter season. I let our cows and new born calves out into the yard from their winter housing yesterday so that I could put in a new fresh straw bed for them. They stood at the field gate looking over it, out towards the pasture fields, and if they could talk I know that they would have asked me to let them go. A beautiful sunshine spring day no doubt gave them the urge to leave winter behind. With some rain in the forecast I returned them to their nice, warm, clean straw bed for a few more days.
Sheeba and the other two dogs came back from herding the sheep, tired but happy and, as though celebrating the weather, took up positions lying against the shelter side of the white stone wall at the house with the sun beaming down on them …… pure contentment and happiness.
Preparing for Summer
Every day is now a reassessment of the coming spring and summer season. Picking the right “turnout” day is important for man and animal. The conditions have to be right with a good prospect of mild and dry conditions at least for the first week back out on the grass. The sense of relief when the cattle go out is great. No more winter feeding, no more bedding of houses and a reduced necessity for veterinary input as the animals are much healthier out in their natural environment.
The reduced workload, however temporary, is a big relief for everybody working on the farm too. Calving completed means no late nights and very early mornings. Animals looking after their own feed requirements means that we can turn our attention to planning the planting of spring crops and the preparation of fields for hay and silage cutting and for all the other essential spring and summer work. Mustn’t forget of course that the hedge cutting has to be done by 1st March as that is the date on which the birds start nesting in the hedges so we don’t want to disturb them once they set about this essential ecological task!
From Farmer Mike