Thursday, 28 April 2016

Farming

When one is not 'in' farming, then I think it is fair to say that most outsiders rarely think of the farming year in terms of what jobs need doing.   Yes, they notice when the lambs appear in the fields, when the oil seed rape comes into bloom, when the hay is cut and baled and when the combine harvesters begin their job.   But other than that I think it is all taken forgranted.  At least, speaking of myself pre-farming (that is before I became a farmer's wife twenty three years ago after a lifetime of teaching in an inner-city school) then I loved the countryside (I grew up deep in it) and I revelled in country walks and holidays, but I didn't give a lot of thought to how the farmer got his work done.

But certainly in this part of the world, I would say that the last eight months have probably been the hardest for local farmers for a very long time.   It was difficult to get the corn sown (there isn't a lot of it around here because The Dales is largely grassland and what corn there is is usually grown for cattle feed) because we had such lashings of rain, day after day that so that many fields were flooded (and towns like Carlisle too).  Cattle in many places had to come in early because of the state of the fields, although silaging time had been very good indeed, so everyone had at least got plenty of silage.

Now is the time for cattle - milking herds in particular (there are still a lot round here)  - to go out again into the pastures.   The grass has been greening up nicely and at long last it has been possible to get on to the drying-up fields to run over them with the chain harrows and then the roller.  One or two farmers in the vicinity have let their herds out this week - and these cows have been going round the fields like mad things, so enjoying their freedom after a winter of being shut in.   Now the weather has turned for the worse; we are getting snow (an inch yesterday, which went almost as quickly as it came) and then towards evening the sky clears and we are getting sharp frosts.   This means that the grass is damaged when the cattle come out after morning milking.

Straw for indoor bedding is running out and I think most farmers are keen to let their cattle out, but the weather has to be right.

Lambing of Swaledale sheep has not quite finished yet but the fields are full of healthy-looking lambs.   Once the first twenty four hours are past and the lambs have a good helping of colostrum in their tummies they are a hardy lot and really thrive better outside than they do shut in the barn.   Most of the Dales sheep up here are
Swaledales - with some mules and a smattering of Blue-faced Leicesters.

The farmer is saying that he can never remember it as cold and inclement as this in all his years of farming, but farmers are a hardy lot and they press on, knowing that sooner or later it will all even out as things will get going 'as normal' again.

 

45 comments:

angryparsnip said...

I have been reading on several blogs about the bad weather and more snow.
Here in America there have been super bad rain storms and tornadoes in the midlands.
Here in the southwest it has been hot cool warm cool so very strange.
Spring came much too fast and everything is blooming like crazy. Even the old dried up tomatoes from last year put out new growth !

cheers, parsnip

Terry and Linda said...

SNOW! Sigh! What a horrid thought this time of year. You are so wet, my heart goes out to you and your Farmer. Too much of anything is just too much. Come on Sun...it's TIME!

Linda

Dawn McHugh said...

Until we moved to this lifestyle I never thought of grass growing, now I am almost checking it daily, shifting animals to new paddocks and shutting off paddocks to let it have a chance to grow, watching the hay supplies run down and sourcing more, the weather has a lot to answer for

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I hope the forecast weather toniht isn't as bad for you as feared.

Gerry Snape said...

The hail storm was so bad and coming down with such force and angled that a heron who got caught in it fluttered down pathetically and landed in a neighbours hedge before desperately trying to take off again...then thunder storms! Bah humbug!...nearly May!

Mac n' Janet said...

Can't imagine snow this late in the year. Farming is such a hard way of life that I have nothing but admiration for those who stick to it.

donna baker said...

Much the same here though I have never heard of housing herds of cattle and sheep. Farming is so very difficult and in the US most farms are now Agribusinesses, like Con Agri etc. It went toward organic gardening and animals some years ago, but haven't heard how profitable it is. Hope the weather improves there soon.

Derek Faulkner said...

While the snow, hail and cold winds have been a real pain this last week, even down here in Kent, I wouldn't say that it was particularly unusual, April has always been a topsy-turvy month, although it has clearly been worse where you are. One year, must be all of 30 years ago, I remember we got up on the 1st June to find a blanket of snow on the ground, which of course quickly went.
Cattle and their calves have been out for about three weeks now and after drying winds and some sunshine the fields are drying out too quickly and are hard in places. Typical Kent clay, either waterlogged or cracking up with dryness.

Librarian said...

We've had snowfall twice this week; it didn't last (thankfully), but was enough to have me pull out my warmest padded winter coat again, and worry about the flowers on orchard trees and baby birds in their nests and so on.
My brother-in-law runs a dairy farm with his brothers near Ripon, so I do know a little bit about how much hard work farming (any type of it) means for the farmers and their families. I don't know whether their cows are already out on the pastures but I hope they are all well and as happy as cows can be!

Gwil W said...

There are pictures in today's paper of hundreds of "frost candles" in vineyards, and I think I heard the the pumpkin crop might have been decimated. Weather is very unusual. No doubt about it.

Rachel said...

There is no such thing as suspension on full pay for crop failure.

thelma said...

It has been a difficult year so far, the weather playing unfairly, bright yellow fields of rape and snow here, though not settling. Cold and wet this morning I fear for all the fledglings that are being nurtured at the moment.

Heather said...

Several times over the past few months I have thought how difficult things must be for farmers and growers alike. The effects of climate change have played havoc with our weather and no one knows quite what to expect next. Trying to forecast it must be a nightmare. As you say, farmers are a hardy lot, and seem to be adapting to the erratic climate and are ready for most contingencies.

Barbara Womack said...

Oh goodness! SNOW?!
We have had the opposite problems in our part of the world. The winter was fairly mild and somewhat dry. We're actually in a precipitation deficit which is truly unusual for this time of year. New year, new challenges.
You're right...all we can do is hang on until it is "normal" again.

The Furry Gnome said...

I watch the farming year around here all the time, but I wish I new more details! A lot of old hayfields here are being converted to cash crops because of the prices of grains.

Dawn McHugh said...

I have nominated you for a Libester blog award pop over to my blog for details :-)

the veg artist said...

One aspect that never gets mentioned is the amount of mental planning and juggling that has to go on in the farmers' heads. They can't just respond to conditions, they must constantly be ready, their equipment must be ready, feed and seed ordered just before its needed - in effect, they are CEO of their own businesses. And Operations Director. And Sales and Marketing Manager. And Transport Manager. And Livestock controller. And driver/mechanic. And labourer! That's on top of the skills of being able to grow crops and animal husbandry.

jinxxxygirl said...

Well i'am sitting here enjoying my coffee in the gloomy early morning... The rain is coming down steady with the occassional rumble of thunder and flash of lightning.... No wind, so my windows are open letting in a cool breeze... a little too cool maybe... but my coffee is keeping me warm...Hubby is off with a friend to a big fishing supply store south of here...He'll be gone part of the day... so its quiet here... just the drip of rain....I think your right about what most people think about farming... I notice just the things you said i would.. the hay in the fields.. the lambs... Is there anything prettier than white sheep on a green field... i think not.. lol We've had a much drier Spring here this year than last year... last year there was a lot of flooding and the Beaver Lake was full , full, full. This year it is quite low.So all the rain this week has been welcome...Lovely post Weaver....Hugs!deb

Dartford Warbler said...

I have been worrying about the new lambs up in the North this week. Not good to have snow in their first hours and days.
So disappointing too when rain means poached cattle fields and trampled new grass. Let`s hope that May brings a better spring with it!

Our grass is growing but the cold night temperatures won`t do much for its nutritional quality, so I`m still putting hay out morning and evening.

George said...

I'm always inspired by the dedication and commitment of people who face the vagaries of farming on a daily basis. Small farms are are critical to a habitable planet. I sure hope there will continue to be people like you and your husband who press forward through challenge after challenge, passing on their love and skills to future generations of farmers.

HiToplay said...

Hittoplay is the place where you can have endless entertainment, happy birthday song in the best song ever.Content: Songs, News, Cooking Recipes, Technology, Religion from all around the world on demand or live Romantic Songs is just a click away .Dance numbers
Life without entertainment is colorless song mashups and we offer the best entertainment songs Arabic Top 10 Songs That you could have ever experienced. 10 Best SongsWe believe in providingDance songs latest and the best quality,song lyricsVideo experience.Songs Hindi

Fairtrader said...

I am ever so pleased to follow farmlife at close range like I can do here. Being a citygirl living in an old fishingcommunity with farmers all around, I've grown quite fond of the smells and sights of farming. Not much lifestock around , sheep are scarse right now, they preside up the hill together with some cow or another. We buy much of our fruits, eggs and vegetables directly from the farmers and fish from the few fishermen still working. In Sweden five farmers closes down every day, due to the increasing import. Pitty. Please, please, don't give up that important and loving work you do!
And don't stop telling us the stories to go with the daily work.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I hope you and your family are well. It's a bit alarming when someone who posts so regularly is gone so long without a word.

Beverley said...

I hope you are all OK Weaver.

John Gray said...

Pat u ok?

jinxxxygirl said...

John Gray gave a heads up that we haven't heard from you in a while Pat... Hope all is alright with you and your family my dear.Hugs!deb

Mary said...

Pat dear - hoping it's just your computer or Internet service that has gone wonky, not you or the farmer! I've been gone too as we lost service when a tree in the back yard was hit by a terrific lightning bolt on Monday. Just back now and notice you haven't posted in the past week, very unusual.
Thinking of you and praying all is well.
Mary -

Beachcomber said...

Have just found a link to John Gray's site. He has a post wondering what has happened to you.
If you are fine and on holiday or just having a rest forgive us for intruding but if you are unhappy or Ill take stength for the many people who are missing you. Sue

Frances said...

I am missing you too Pat. Hope all is well. XX

Devon said...

I miss sipping my tea in the morning as I read of your farming life in England. I sincerely hope all is well and that you and your family are OK.

nenatsixty said...

I hope that all is well with you both. I enjoy your blog, though haven't commented before. Sending you my best wishes.

Gerry Snape said...

I'm very concerned that The Weaver has not posted any blogs recently...if you read this Pat be assured that we miss you and hope all is well...lots of love.

Barbara Womack said...

Haven't seen any posts or comments from you in a while.
I truly hope everything is all right.
Thinking of you from "the other side of the pond".

harsh panwar said...

Nice Blog...
Great CISCO Certification Training in NOIDA(INDIA).
http://get-ccna-ccnp-ccie-training-noida.blogspot.in/

Linda Metcalf said...

You are missed!

Fairtrader said...

Its the 10 of may and you have been quiet for some time now, Weaver, is everything alright???
Is there anyone living a bit closer to the dale and can bring clarity into this?
In my family we are having a bad time right now, some strange flu with enormous fevers and splitting headaches are harassing us all. Perhaps this has reached Yorshire as well?? Be that as it may, I hope you are well and just lacked inspiration and time for another post. Blessings!

Joanne Noragon said...

Hello, and another "miss you," to add to the pile of notes. Hope all is well and you will be back soon.

Hildred said...

Dear Pat, - I keep checking and hoping you will be back. I am keeping the faith that all is well with you....

Maywyn Studio said...

Prayers all is well there

Sue in Suffolk said...

I do hope all is well with you and the farmer, there are many people thinking about you.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I am stopping in to say that I hope this is a technical difficulty you are having, and not something else. I look forward to when you start up blogging again. Thinking of you, Jenn

SandyExpat said...

Hello and another who checks daily to see if you back. Prayers that you and the Farmer are both o.k. Sandy

LANoir said...

Yet another checking in each day to see how you are. Hoping all is well in the Yorkshire Dales.

Midmarsh John said...

Joining many others hoping all is well with you and Farmer.

Jayview said...

I think I remember that on a previous occasion you said you had been advised not to announce holidays on the blog, so hopefully this will turn out to be the happy reason for the break.