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Almost prepared for winter

November 17, 2011
feeding straw November

feeding straw November

Here I go again – droning on about the weather. It’s a cliché I know; but if the weather doesn’t actually rule our lives, it’s a pretty powerful aristocrat.

The spring of 2011 was hot and dry around here, which meant our cattle were out on grass without danger of poaching soft ground. However, the grass soon stopped growing and we had to move animals from pastures we would usually have them grazing for ages that early in the year.

Summer has passed by without really being noticed – dry but not particularly sunny or hot. I’ve quite enjoyed it, but I’m odd in that I find hot sunshine a bit unpleasant when I’m working.

Autumn has been warm and dry. Our neighbours who have all their cereals in the ground spent an anxious few weeks after drilling, watching for rain that came in small quantities, but just in time.

Now in mid-November, it’s cool and damp. Grass is growing  a bit but not enough to dry the soil. But we’ve had no appreciable rain for weeks. From a practical point of view that’s great; we are still able to drive around the farm to reach hedges we are working on, and the cattle are still out eating grass. By this time in 2010, the herd had been inside for three weeks. Whilst we have started feeding; every day they can fill up on grass, even if it’s poor nutritionally, saves on feed and bedding. We will up the feed rate gradually and assume that rain will come and everyone will go inside for the winter.

In the mean time, we actually feel prepared for winter; apart that is from the connection of rain water collection from a barn roof into a 6,000 litre tank. Just a little work to get this sorted out and we can feed rain water to half the herd throughout the winter. This water conservation project still seems like a good idea although it will be many years before it pays for itself in saved water bills. It will be great to get that final piece in this winter’s particular preparatory jigsaw in place.

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