May – June 2010

At the start of May we say goodbye to a lovely heifer, Ffynnon. This involves arranging for the vet to give her a pre-movement TB test, with a test ‘reading’ three days later. She is clear. Ffynnon is the first heifer we have bred ourselves and sold – we had a long run of bull calves, and have kept most of the heifers for our breeding herd. One exception is Gwen, who had to have a caesarean and lost her calf. She goes off for meat, always a difficult moment for us, especially as she has had so much close attention because of post-op treatments she needed. She was a gentle animal, but did not fit in well with the others, and could be a bully – not unusual among cattle, and she had grown very large. At least there was compensation in her value, which was better than we had expected.

We put in a new piece of road-side fencing at Ty’n Coed, which has gone in well despite the lack of rain, which makes knocking in posts a challenge. At the beginning of June the cattle all came home, ready for visits from the AI man; by the end of the month, three cows and three heifers had been given semen from two bulls, a pedigree Welsh Black for the cows and an easy-calving Aberdeen Angus bull for the heifers.

The AI man remarked on the condition of the cows – their coats are shining and they look a picture of health; but also raised a note of caution: their diet, especially come winter, needs to be carefully regulated so that they don’t get too fat.

On the sheep front we had an aggravating loss, partly due to a mix-up over who was checking them. One ewe was unable to get up after heavy rain had soaked her fleece; she seems to have had a heart attack. A second ewe got stuck a few days later in identical circumstances, but we got to her in time. As a result of this tragedy, shearing was brought forward, and the sheep now look cool and a great deal thinner.

This has been the sunniest June, and two of the warmest, sunniest months I can remember, which has played well with the livestock, poorly with the grass, and variably with the vegetables. Two fields have been cut for hay, but the crop is very thin, so we hope we will get a decent crop off two more fields to tide us through the winter. Rabbits have decimated peas and cabbages, but we are now enjoying good crops of garlic and early potatoes.