It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas around here as a row of cows were dried off this morning and the countdown is on for the rest of them. Anything within eight weeks of calving is being dried off this week and we’ll finish off the remainder mid next week. The 90 cows milking are averaging 14.7 litres a day at 5.04% butterfat and 3.97% protein. They are getting 3kgs of dairy ration and good quality baled silage from surplus grass during the summer.
We’ve been very lucky this summer and autumn as rainfall has been low so the cows weren’t housed full-time until 4th December. Apart from saving on money and work, it did the heart good to see them going out to grass in the winter sunshine. Milk solids dropped slightly when they came in full-time.
All the stock is in. The yearling heifers and steers are on the outfarm and we have the bull yearlings on the homefarm. A few will be used for breeding and the others will be finished as bull beef at 16 months. The steers are finished at 22-24 months. We’ve just got the genotyping information back on the yearling heifers and will be selling half of them in the early spring. Fattening steers and cull cows will be going to the factory over the next couple of months.
The last of the young stock will be dosed for worms and fluke this week and once all the cows are dried off next week, they will be dosed too.
It’s that time of year to reflect on what has been and plan for the future. We’re on target to deliver 480kgs of milk solids, 1300 gallons per cow. We transferred to a company this year and while I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to keep your stress levels down, it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. At least it is done now and need never be repeated! I’m getting paperwork up to date to get it to the accountant so we can complete a profit monitor early in the new year. Calving will start from 4th February and as we’re a bit tight on calf housing, we’re thinking of getting two or three 10-calf hutches this year to see how they go. I’m also going to treat myself to a calf barrow! Brian usually carries the newborn to the calf shed but he’s had back pain this year so is taking that as a warning sign. While I can lift most newborns, the walking with them in my arms doesn’t go so well!
My darling husband really gave the woman working in the chemist a bad opinion of farmers this week. Collecting antibiotics for himself, he decided to purchase the “Wellness for Him” tablets the osteopath had recommended (and I kept forgetting to buy) and decided to get “Wellness for Her” for me (to ensure I’m fit and healthy for the calving season!).
“Could you gift wrap them?” he asked the cashier.
“I will not,” she replied with some force “You can’t give her those for Christmas.”
“Well, she probably won’t get anything else.”
He told me this after buying my present yesterday and reassuring me that the shop allows 30 days for exchanges – just in case! I’d better get my thinking cap on regarding his Christmas present, it’s not like I can just give him a copy of An Ideal Farm Husband when he’s already read through a couple of drafts of it!
[Lorna Sixsmith has a dairy and beef farm with her husband Brian James in Co. Laois. They have two children aged 12 and 14. Lorna also writes humourous but realistic farming books: Would You Marry A Farmer?, How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife and An Ideal Farm Husband. One of her short stories has been included in Then There Was Light too. ]