April 2016 on the Farm
The spring is so lovely, so welcoming after the long winter. The warmth and bright sunshine, even if between showers, cheers everyone. The frog spawn that was laid so early in the warm January, fights to develop in the cool dry early spring before the puddles dry up, only the little tadpoles in the deepest puddles surviving to become frogs.
WILDLIFE - Some creatures thrive: the cormorants overwintered on the river, feasting on the plentiful fish. I'd always thought they were a coastal bird, and they seem to be moving inland. It is lovely to see their strange habit of stretching their wings out as if drying themselves out.
Baby rabbits are everywhere. There was little cold weather to hold up breeding. Some are almost full grown, leaping back into the blossoming hedgerows at my approach.
CROPS - The crops are at starting their spring growth. The warm winter has left the crops more vulnerable than usual to fungal diseases, the experts say, so we walk them to see if we need to do anything. I'm pleased the way they have come through the winter. Our work on soil structure and care with drilling has paid off, and the crops look in good shape. The oilseed rape starts flowering, a brilliant yellow that signals spring and wild growth harvesting the bright sunlight.
COWS - The grass grows, finally overtaking the hungry mouths that feed on it. A neighbour who lives just next to one of our grazing fields, said how much she enjoys going to sleep with the soporific sound of a herd of cows grazing. The cows have times of day when they prefer to eat all together. It's a lovely sight and sound. Lay down in the field, and they stop their harvest and come and investigate. They just cannot work out how we do lying down, sitting or kneeling, and come over to investigate. Their great muzzles close in on you, their tongues clearing their nostrils to get a good sniff, their tongues investigating if any of this new sight might be good to eat. Very soon they get bored, and return to the real interest of life, a bellyful of grass. Then they sit down to cud.
YOUNGSTOCK - Our calves and younger heifers are also out. We support the calves with milk, which helps them ward off the cold, and bring them in by night if it gets too cold and wet. Mostly they are out and enjoying the fresh grass.
CHEESE - April brings the most milk of the whole year, the spring flush, as cows respond to the new grass. That makes for a busy time in the cheese dairy, heads down, hard work as the vats are fuller day by day and the stores fill up. The challenge it to make our handmade cheese as well when the vats are full as when they are more empty. The gradings from last year show that we can, testimony to the hard work and dedication of the team to producing world class cheese every time.