Monday, 25 February 2013


It's been dry and we have finally got round to working the land with 'Anna Ford'  and 'Maggie' our smallholding tractors.   Number one son is teaching number 2 son how to drive 'Anna Ford' .  She's missing her windscreen at the moment.  We are waiting for a tractor mechanic to find us a new one.  I'm in the background ploughing with my Ford 4000 and my 65 Euros plough.  Gosh it's boring ploughing!

Thinking of sowing a ley mix oats, peas and grass seed.    Apparently you sow the seed then you let it grow and harvest the oats and peas and grass into round bales of silage.    Then your left with the grass for permanent pasture.  I wanted to grow Fodder Beet but I have been told I would have to spray off the old grass and it's a nightmare to weed.

Any way we are getting away from monoculture aren't we?  I think that's a posh word for just growing grass.


  1. Looks like the Fords are starting to earn their keep, all you need to do now is disc it and harrow it down to a nice fine tilth, then sow your ley mix.
    The boredom continues.
    Sounds like good feedstuff when you bale it, never seen it, but must be like a complete fattening ration.
    Well away from monoculture (although I've been reading about permaculture, the latest eco-friendly thinking)

    Nightmare to lift as well, especially when it's usually cold or raining or blowing a gale, or all three.

    Another bright sunny morning, touch of frost.
    Raggy cat following its usual pattern, in front of fire (not on)

  2. Hi Cumbrian. Yes it's great to be getting on the land after such an awfully wet year. I keep thinking back to when I was little and every body grew a field of vegetables for the cattle, horse and themselves.

    Struggling to find a ley mix that is affordable. Most modern grass mixes contain rye grass and this needs the bag manure (NYPK) to survive. It's so hard to try to be organicish. Is that a word? So much easier to hammer the land with chemicals. I haven't bought granulated fertilizer for 7 years. We just put out bagged granulated lime. Average fertilizer is 27.00 Euros a bag. Nine Euros for the bagged lime.

    The oat pea mix is supposed to excellent fattening. Have to pay to round bale them.

    Dropped Friesian/Jersey bull calves down to thirty Euros a piece. Think it's terrible the dairy farmer doesn't get a minimum price that is acceptable to them. Heard of a Jersey cross bulf calf going for 5 Euros last week at mart.

    Heavy frost today. Should kill anything in the ground. Neighbour says he will rotavate field for me.

    Terrier asleep on sheepskin rug next to me.

  3. Yes, it was swede we used (turnips) and local name "tunchies", there wasn't many worse jobs than lifting these, "snigging tunchies" as it was known. A tunchie knife had a curved pointed end, lift it by the top leaves, trim the root end then chop off the top, throw it into a trailer. All in a cold wet muddy field. Then chip them and carry them by the bucket into the milkers. All good fun. Or kale, a crop I haven't seen for a long time.

    Paying to round bale a few acres of ley mix sounds like a much better way, easier on the back as well.

    Might be a good time to be buying a few calves, the ley mix will be ready in time to keep them growing, maybe not the best butchers animal, but OK for your own freezer?

  4. Never heard of "tunchies" Cumbrian. Think the Scottish call them "Neeps". The Irish call the Swede "The red turnip." I was thinking of getting an hand pulper for the Fodder Beet. But I am concerned the may be a weed problem from the old grassland. Apparently I should have sprayed the grass first. But I don't like used weedkiller need crops. Probably go for barley and grass mix and get it baled and wrapped.

    I am waiting to see if last years 'cheap' calves make any money. Don't really fancy bull meat. The butchers inform me that most of the pre-packed meat we get is bull or bullock. So perhaps there is nothing wrong with it.

    Friesian/Jersey dropped Calves are cheap to buy but they still cost the same to rear. Thirty six Euros for a cheap bag of milk replacer x 2. Bags of calf pencils, bags of calf nuts. Worming drugs, de-horning, veterinary annual test, winter feeding. They are dear cattle. That's why people try to pay more for stronger breeds.

    I will probably pay to have an heifer killed for the freezer this year. That's 200 Euros. There's no cheap farming any more.

    Worst thing a smallholder can do is to work out how much it costs to run it.


  5. I think tunchies is another very local word you'll not hear outside Cumbria, or even Cumberland as it was. I suppose most areas have their own words and sayings.

    Didn't realise just how much cost is involved in modern stock rearing, of course you're quite right, it costs as much to feed a bad doer as a good one.
    And 200 Euros sounds a an awful lot to drop a beast, even if you are getting it back in freezer-ready joints.
    I suppose the mountain of paperwork that surrounds modern farming has to be maintained as well.

    Foggy here this morning, but the sun's starting to clear it now, mild as well.
    Raggy cat continuing its sleepy lifestyle, asked to go out early last night, but at the front door this morning.

  6. Farming costs a fortune Cumbrian. I could walk round every field and find a fault or something that needs reseeding or a drain cleaned or a fencing project. The worst thing the smallholder can do is to get pencil and paper to work how much it all costs.

    A lot of farmers sell their cattle because there is no longer a slaughter premium to pay for the despatching and joint preparation. Somebody once said to me if a farmer made 25p an hour they would be doing well.

    There is also a lot of paperwork but at least you know what you're eating when you kill your own and you have total traceability.

    Another dry day here today. Been busy pulling some old barbed wire fencing from a drain. Who invented barbed wire and why do brambles and grass attach them selves to it? Digger man supposed to becoming tomorrow to dig a drain and clean out dykes. More cost but at least I will have some one to talk to for the day. Rural Isolation is no good for the spirit. Can go a week without seeing anybody except the family. Got more done around the farm in last week than I have in months.



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