As a small farm we have to make some of our farm buildings work hard for us which means they are in use all through the year in different formats.
June – December = Turkeys
December = Car Parking
December – April = Cattle and Calving
April – June = Heifers
Back in mid December the sheds were cleaned which means cutting down all the hanging feeders, carefully removing the hanging drinkers and associated water piping and tanks. Then putting away the ‘herris fencing panels and boarding that we use to enclose the shed. The tractor is then used to clear out all the bedding (this will all be used as fertiliser in the fields when it is spread in the spring). We need these sheds for car parking on our Christmas collection days.
In January we get to work preparing the sheds to house the second half of our shorthorn beef herd. These guys up to this point have been out winter grazing, feasting on kale and silage. But after all the rain we have been having I think they were looking forward to coming in!
This means installing the feed barriers which enclose the shed and allow us to feed the cattle their silage with very little wastage. We have to put the cattle water troughs back in place and test the water system thoroughly.
Then for the bedding, the tractor brings round several bales of straw and we get to work with pitchforks breaking the sections fluffing up the straw to make a cosy deep bed. And yes for this job there is no better technique than good old fashioned elbow grease!!
Once we are all set it is time to get the cows and calves down from the hill fields, across the road, through the farmyard and into their cosy shed.
The cows and calves will stay together for a couple of weeks while they settle then we will ‘wean’ them which means separating them. Then here comes another shed changeover as we construct a dividing wall between the two groups. This then gives the cows a few months rest before they will calve in the spring.
Once the weather is good the weaned calves will head out as a group to graze and grow. Once each cow has calved and everything is looking great with Mum and Baby they will be turned out to grass.
I have to say that there is nothing that I love more than looking out of the front door to see a line of happy heads quietly munching!!