Good weather conditions enable timely progress and great fodder production for our organic cattle.
Since May we have taken the opportunity whenever the weather window is there, and the grass is plentiful to cut and bale our clover rich fields for silage. The bales are then carried back to the farmyard where they are wrapped and stacked. We need to have hundreds of bales in the silage stack to see our cattle well fed throughout the winter. Back in the day we use to do all of this ourselves, but now we employ some great local contractors to carry out this work for us.
As a farm we specialise in the production of organic beef. We buy in young calves from local dairy farms, usually sired by Angus bulls, so the vast majority of the calves are black. As a photographer I always moan that black is a dull colour, only great for silhouette shots! So I was delighted with these new arrivals. This colourful herd was sired by a Stabiliser, a composite breed developed by the crossing of the Hereford, Red Angus, Simmental and Gelbvieh, hence the wonderful colours and markings.
We pride ourselves in all our wonderful clover rich fields. Having a high clover content means there is no need for nitrogen fertiliser and provides a good source of protein. Looking at these photos you may be thinking that there is little clover, but we can assure you it's there! All the tall, broad leaves, hiding the clovers and grasses are chicory, a mineral rich forage herb that has a long taproot capable of penetrating to great depth, breaking through the soil and leaving it aerated, aiding drainage and crop root development. So the chicory is helping to improve the soil structure and provides a high protein content for the cattle to enjoy.
Every year we evaluate our fields to ensure they are providing the optimum nutrition for the livestock. When a field becomes unproductive or weed infested it becomes necessary to plough them up and reseed.
This field, Cocklands had become overrun with docks so it was ploughed and has now been reseeded with turnips. The turnips are fast growing and will be enjoyed by our neighbour's sheep over the winter. During this time many of the dock seeds in the soil will have germinated, but little do they realise their wasted effort! As come the spring the field will once again be cultivated and resown with a clever arable silage mixture of oats, peas, grass, clover and other deliciousness! The oats and peas romp away fast and provide an early cut of silage, leaving the grasses and clover to come on later.
Whilst some may have thought England's summer was a tad rainy at times, the moisture has really helped keep the grass growing well. Whenever tractor work needed doing, the weather windows appeared. So from a farming prospective summer 2021 has been pretty good and the sun continues to shine in this part of the world!