Name: Libby Clarke
Enterprise: Suckler Farmer
[newborn calf pictured on the right]
So the forecast has let us down... again! One dry day in 7, and no sign of the heat wave, or even two days without rain in a row. It's been another busy week with a number of cows calving and pens that are filled with cow and calf units not getting out to grass. Thankfully all is going well.
In terms of trouble-free births and calves quick to get up to their feet and suckle, I credit a good bit of the vitality in the calves to the All-Trace bolus the cows got in February.
A small number of cows and the stock bull had their feet paired using the roll-over crate which is a super way to do this job with minimum stress to the animal.
This means they are ready for out, and out is where they're going! Quality silage is scarce in our area, and the cows need out to grass to keep them milking properly. All of the February and March calvers have been split into small batches and today have been put into fields rather than running one herd group. With a bit of luck, the dry weather is on its way and they won't poach the ground too badly.
This will just leave me the April and May babies and they can move from calving pens to a straw bedded shed and get their feet under them for a few extra days before they face the weather.
Looking ahead, it's less than two weeks until Balmoral Show, which throws me into a state of panic! I don't remember a show whereby I didn't have just about all of my cattle out in advance. I spend all week at the show commentating in the cattle section, and have one heifer going - hopefully!
Name: Jamie Hayes
Enterprise: Suckler cows and finishing all progeny
- Suckler cows: 51
- Cows calved: 50
- Maiden heifers: 9
- Yearlings: 41
- 24 months: 32
- Stock bulls: 2
What happened this week?
It was a busy week on the farm. We finally got all the fencing completed on both farms and also we cleared up any branches and trees that had fallen. All stock on both farms were brought back in last Friday due to the weather and are housed indoors. Silage supplies are running tight and we should have enough for 3-days. The cows; maiden heifers and second-calvers are on 3 kgs of nuts with a mix of hay and silage since they came in. Body condition of the herd has improved massively since they went out and this has led to an increase in the number of heats being detected. The last five last calves were also dehorned.
Hopefully, after Tuesday’s rain we will get the cows out on Thursday with all the stock on both farms going out sometime over the weekend. Hopefully, we will start spreading slurry on paddocks that have been grazed and if all stock will be able to stay ou, we will remove concentrates from the die
Name: Joe Desmond.
Enterprise: Wagyu Farmer.
This week I had a big to-do list. I was to spread fertiliser on the grazed ground and fix damaged fences, but little of that got done because of the weather. So I used the opportunity to focus on the most important animal on the farm...ME!
Two weeks ago, I was putting on four layers of clothes just to go outside. I was taking in porridge every morning like a suck calf takes warm milk and boosting revive once or twice a week to supplement.
This is because I need to protect myself against the adverse elements that farmers face on a daily basis. We are out in the wet and cold for extended periods, it has been a tough winter. I don’t want to get sick. A lot depends on me keeping good physical health. The little efforts of eating well and dressing appropriate help keep me healthy so I don’t catch a cold, which in turn could weaken me to get the flu, which in turn could land me with pneumonia. That would be serious. I would need medical attention if that were to happen.
But what about mental health? How do we carry on the in such adverse conditions? Stress, worry, despair; often completely legitimate concerns that are not as easily dealt with like the rain and snow. What are the small fixes we can do to help deal with things we have no control over?
Firstly, I want to mention depression. That is a word that is often thrown out to cover a wide variety of conditions and degrees of one’s mental state. It is not the “I’m fed-up, feeling down or even miserable” that most of us would be odd not to have faced over the last winter. clinical depression is a serious and debilitating illness that needs to be recognised and addressed. It can keep you from functioning and distort the way you look at things. If you are feeling this way or have the “fed up, feeling down” mood for prolonged periods you need to get help. Telling someone is not enough, you need to take action or ask someone to take action for you and get looked after.
Just like ignoring the flu can lead to pneumonia, ignoring poor mental health can lead to clinical depression. It is a legitimate health concern of the industry we work in so don’t shy away from the topic.
But what about feeling down sometimes? Dressing warm may keep away a cold but how do you rally against stress and pressure so it doesn’t progress to something more serious? I have a few fixes that have made big differences for me in the past. Now is a great time to tackle them as the land is still too wet to work. A few parts of the farm are like a no man’s land.
I use this “down time” to tackle the niggly things that annoy the hell out of me all winter long but I tend to ignore once we get a bit of decent weather. A jag of stones to fix the puddles; clear the drains and replace that missing downpipe so the yard stops flooding and give a general spring cleaning, even if this weather doesn’t look anything like Spring!
Another fix that works wonders for me is to be aware. I am aware that winters are tough and pressure can run high. So every spring, I paint the pillars and front wall to the yard. I see it from half a mile away as I come to work. It automatically clicks my brain into a good state. It’s the first thing I see when I arrive and the last when I go. From the outside it simply looks good, but inside it reminds me that spring will come, summer will follow and the farming will carry on.
Please farmers, look after yourselves both physically and mentally.