Farming, and by extension the civilisation it supports, is inextricably linked to the climate and the changes being wrought. It is impossible not to feel this every day. But as farmers we are in a position to remove carbon from the atmosphere reversing these changes.
Healthy, living soil is key to that soil holding carbon. It is a soil that is covered, not bare. It is a soil that has high microbial activity, not one that has been doused with artificial fertilisers and chemicals. It is a soil where the grasses in it have been allowed to grow fully before being grazed, and then left to recover again. It is where animals recycle the grasses into manure that is utilised by microbes to further improve the organic matter in that soil. A beautiful symphony that is conducted every day.
The beautiful food that we produce, the healthy animals that we care for, all begin with the soil. Regenerating the soil can only be good.
Our sheep have had all their lambs and we do not think it is too soon to call our first foray back into lambing a success. All lambs were born without assistance from us and although foxes are skulking around they did not manage to make a meal of any.
We are putting this down to a couple of things - the ewes are extremely attentive mothers and they shared their area with the yearling cattle who kept the foxes from venturing too close. It would be a very daring fox to brave this herd, who even chase our sweet, little dogs if they venture too close (can you imagine!).
With lambing done, the cows have begun to have calves! Frosts and all, it is a great time of year.
Long weekends are always welcome. Maybe not as welcome for us as for others because they do not mean a holiday, but they are a change (which is supposedly as good as…!). Pigs, cows and sheep still have to be moved and checked but at a more holiday-esque pace. This gave us more time to enjoy the antics of the lambs who do not have to do anything much at all to be completely charming.
New life is one of the greatest joys of living on a farm, but birth can also be a nail biting time when first-time mums are involved. While commemorating the birth of our glorious ruler, one of of these mums looked like she was not going to live up to the name. We had been monitoring her for a couple of hours and it looked like the whole process had stalled - possibly fatally so.
We tried to herd her into a hastily constructed yard but she did not like the idea at all. We tried in vain to catch her but despite her labour issues she was still surprisingly agile. It appeared as though our only hope was to leave, come back in a few hours when these issues had slowed her down enough and try and help her in any way we could. So we left, came back in a few hours, and a brand new lamb was lying next to her just taking its first clumsy steps!
Working on a farm can have good days and bad days, sometimes the weather can be perfect, sometimes not. For us it is right. Having just returned from an evening walk to the creek with Daisy I am reminded of all the life around us. The creek is a hub of activity with its ponds, reeds and tree hollows where the sounds of life can be very loud indeed. We are privileged to be sharing this earth with so many others.
Sharing is not always easy though and we would be happy if the sheep would enjoy the company of the cattle just a little bit more. They look relaxed after they are moved onto the new area together, but without fail when we return the next day, the sheep have broken through the fence. Maybe the sheep consider themselves above the cattle and leave or maybe the cattle have the superiority complex and kick them out. Who knows? Patience is needed, we are dealing with many individuals!
The beginning of winter is a great time to reflect on the past year - what worked well, what can we do better (it’s too damn hot to do it in January…). The, at times, unquenchable thirsts of our cattle proved to be one problem.
We use portable troughs across the farm because it allows us to move the mob everywhere and means we do not have to rely upon the contradiction of dams; more grass cover means less water in dams. At times though, the flow of water from our water system could not keep. The solution is to pump the water higher using solar panels, increasing the flow and keeping the animals happier on the hottest of days to come.
It is also time to prepare the soil surface for pasture growth in spring. The cows are now grazing the dried material from the pasture, leaving their areas manured and the soil disturbed. Ideal conditions for conversion of sunlight to green grass when spring arrives as Daisy is demonstrating here!