farm diary

It's always the same, when there is time to write up the Diary there is not much happening and when there is lots going on there is no time to write it up!  By the time there is time it is all in the past!  Sorry about that but.....

As a matter of fact it is pretty hectic all the time now so in an effort to overcome the situation you might like to visit me on TWITTER @Chas Sutcliffe where I frequently post items of farm interest as well as photographs. It's a lot easier and quicker to post something there at the time it's happening or soon after so please click Follow when you get there and you you will be kept up to date with things as they happen at Tetford Longhorns. As time permits I may be able to post new items on this Diary in due course..I'll do my best!

October 19th 2012
The Lincolnshire Poacher Competition organised by Lincolnshire County Foods took place on Tuesday this week and today we learned that our butchers shop, Meridian Meats Family Butchers Ltd. in Louth, won Champion in the Bacon Class and a total of 6 GOLD Awards, 9 SILVER Awards and 5 BRONZE Awards. Click here to see how Meridian Meats did amongst all the Award Winners. Congratulations to Jim and all the Team in Louth!

10th October 2012
Tetford Rosalind and Tetford Rose, the two heifers that we sold in August, have been running with Tetford Q Guild since mid August so Ian Beckett was booked to come today and scan them along with with some other cows, to check if they are in calf. If they are they can go to their new home. Ian arrived on schedule at 2 o'clock and as I had the cows penned up ready he was able to get straight to work without delay. Everything he scanned was successfully in calf, Rosalind 1.5 months and Rose 40 days so I have made arrangements to deliver them tomorow and moved them into a pen in a shed at the yard for easy loading in the morning.

24th September 2012
Having been away in the South West of the country during the week of 17th September it was good to see things through 'new eyes' when going around the stock after returning at the weekend. On the whole they all looked better than I remembered! The young bulls in the yard are really getting quite fit now. We used the last of 2011 made silage this weekend and have had to start the new crop which has been met with enthusiasm as can be seen in the photograph on the left! Out in the fields grass is certainly pretty static and the calves are getting through large quantities of creep feed now, especially the older ones up at Worlaby. We shall be weaning the majority of the calves born before the end of March soon so I shall have to erect a catching pen around the creeps soon so that they get used to being surrounded with cattle hurdles when they go in to feed. This should make it a reasonably easy task to catch them up and bring them home to the yard at Tetford for the winter. This worked well last year except that having brought two trailer loads of calves back and settled them in to their accommodation they made a break for freedom during the hours of darkness over the feed troughs hanging on the outside of the sheeted gates. By the following morning the shed was empty! Half the escapees were down the lane in the Church yard and the other half were scattered around the locality. Fortuneately they didn't take too much rounding up. Previous occupants had been much larger so were unable to exit through the gap. The the problem was soon solved with the addition of a bar to reduce the space above the troughs! I don't expect a repeat of that particular problem this year but I am sure there will be something new to test our patience when the time comes!

28th - 31st August 2012 Mucking out.
We finally got around to tackling the mucking out this week! The foul weather this week has put a stop to harvesting so Tim Lamyman at Worlaby was able to spare a tractor, trailer with driver Sue to cart to the rape stubble at Worlaby ready for spreading. This was a terrific help and meant that I was able to concentrate on loading and had time whilst the tractor was away to clear out the corners and scrape around in an effort to keep things reasonably tidy so that it didn't look too much as though a bomb had gone off at the end! I had already cleaned out the shed we keep the young bulls in earlier in the year but this had been piled up on top of the bedding in the shed vacated by the cows in April because the land was too wet to cart onto at the time so we had a full winter's worth of muck to shift this week. We lost count of the number of loads but certainly between 25 and 30 plus a few loads I had done earlier in the month - at that count there must be around 500 tons ready to spread as it was all well rotted and for the most part quite wet and heavy. On Friday morning Sue, in charge of the tractor, came back after what seemed to be somewhat longer than normal to say that after struggling up Tetford Hill in bottom gear the trailer wouln't tip so she had had to call for assistance to get some of the load out before the hydraulics would tip the rest of the load out! I reduced the load size a bit after that and we finished about four o'clock. All that remains now is to steam clean the gates, barriers and feeders etc. and wash down so things have time to dry out before the cattle come back in from the pastures in November. A very useful three days, not before time but a job well done all the same!

21st August 2012 Baling barley straw.

There was a heavy shower of rain around midday yesterday so nothing got baled but today has stayed fine although rather overcast. There is a light breeze so the trails have soon dried up on the hillside at Worlaby. John Benge set in soon after one o'clock and was well into the first field when I popped up around two thirty. There is much more straw this year, which is a relief having been somewhat short of straw last winter. We will have to see how it goes but at the moment I am quietly confident we shall be in a more comfortable position that we were this time last year! The bales will be left out on the stubble and fetched as we use them during the winter. They keep better lying individually with the wind around them to dry them off and having them on the field provides good cover for the pheasants and partridges during the shooting season.

20th August 2012 Foot Trimming and Nose Rings.
I had haltered Sovereign and Samson in readiness for having their feet trimmed this morning so when Ian McNee arrived soon after 10 o'clock he was able to get straight on with the job. Samson was the first to be done and was soon looking much improved with his long toes removed and the soles of his hooves disced off nice and level. Both bulls were lovely and quiet during their time in the crush and look vastly better. With their copper nose rings fitted before being released from the crush they really have taken on a more "grown-up" proper bull like appearance! Quarryman was in need of a bit of a tidy up and was waiting at the other end of the yard in the catching pen adjoining the field and paddock. In his usual mischeavous way he had found an unopened 100kg. Energy Tub and having removed the polythene cover had rubbed his head in the sticky molasses top! His face has taken on a rich golden hue and he will no doubt be more than a little attractive to a whole host of flying insects! Feet trimmed he is back out with his cows again.

Having had a small accident with one of the cables to our electronic weigh platform the week before last I shall have to wait for its safe return from Victor Loverdale at Pharmweigh before Sovereign and Samson can have their official weight check which is required for their registration. I am hoping we can get that done later in the week so all the papers can be sent off to Debbie Dann at the Longhorn Society office together with some hairs pulled from each of their tails for DNA recording. 

17th August 2012
Tetford Rose co-operated first thing this morning allowing herself to be haltered with the help of a bucket of food and walked quietly, though somewhat reluctantly to begin with, down the lane on a halter to join Q Guild, Rosalind and four other cows with their calves. At 4 o'clock this afternoon they all seemsed very laid back and contented as is evident in the photo on the right!

16th August 2012
On Wednesday we had sold two heifers for breeding with the agreement that they would run with our bull Tetford Q Guild so the vet was called in the morning to blood test one of them,Tetford Rosalind, for BVD, Leptospirosis, Johnes and IBR. Tetford Rose, the second heifer,  had received a clean bill of health in June but I decided that it would be a good opportunity to blood test the two young bulls, Tetford Sovereign and Tetford Samson, at the same time and to give them their inspection which is a requirement for registration with the Longhorn Cattle Society. Katherine, our vet, arrived around 2 o'clock together with a student who assisted with the blood sampling before the bulls were checked to confirm that they have no visible genetic defects and that they are considered of suitable conformation for pedigree breeding. Eyes, teeth and jaw alignment, legs and feet were checked and found to be normal and correct. Their testicles were also checked and scotal circumference measurements were taken for each bull. I then walked each bull around the yard on their halters and into the crush where they had blood samples taken before rejoining the six other bulls in their group. Katherine and her assistant washed and disinfected their boots and leggings and left me to lead Rosalind down the lane and into the field to join Q Guild.  Rose who is grazing with some other heifers in the field behind the yard will be caught in the morning and transferred over to join Q Guild.

I also telephoned Ian McNee who foot trims our cattle and booked him to come on Monday morning with his roll-over crush to trim the two young bull's feet and also to tidy up Quarryman's feet while he is here. It will also be the ideal time to pop the young one's nose rings in when they are restrained on their sides in the crush.

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