Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Smallholding Pictures Of Our Cattle Grazing The Fields Next To The Bay

"Dal Boy" the bullock (He looks like a Dalmation), "Archie" the British Frisian bullock and "Rosie" the Simmental X Holstein heifer happily grazing on the fields above Bantry Bay, Ireland.

 The rest of the lads and lasses, heads down chomping away at the grass.  Half of them were bought in when then they were little calf's and the other five (that's 11 eh?)  we bought in.
"Copper".  She's an Hereford, Limousin cross.  All out cattle have names and the vet always smiles when he takes their blue card away at testing times to say they have passed their test for TB or Brucellosis.  

 We are trying to tight graze at the moment.  We are trying to save 3 fields for silage this year. It probably needs a few more weeks.  I never understand how they don't allow farmers to cut hedges during the bird nesting season.  Yet they allow them to cut silage.  Surely there must be birds and hares nesting in the field?.

Apparently since British and Irish farmers have started making silage instead of letting the grass grow for hay.  The bees and insects are decreasing in numbers because traditional hay meadows had flowers to pollinate.  The silage cuts the wild flowers before they are in flower.  So the bees don't get to pollinate.  I understand why we have to make silage because you just don't get good summers for hay any more and you can store silage in a pit or round bales outside, wrapped in plastic. Also some farmers get 3 cuts of silage instead of just one crop of hay.

You can see where the electric fence was placed and the darker green new grass.  The bottom of the picture shows a bit of 'poaching' in the 'hollow field' which is always a bit wet and the rushes love it.  My grandfather use to cut the rushes and take them back to the farm and use them for bedding for the cattle.  We top them with the tractor and sometimes try to spray the rushes.  But they always come back.  Apparently a rush seed can live in the soil, dormant for 60 years.  How do other smallholders cope with soft rushes?


  1. The ones in the top picture (Friesan / Hereford cross?) look well, ready for the butcher.

    Yes, the rushes, ragwort, nettles, thistles, brambles all seem to thrive everywhere, wish I could find something edible that would do as well.

    Sad about the decline of the bees and insects, this has a knock-on effect on the birds as well, and we never get to see the meadows in full colour any more. Progress I suppose.

    Rain here again, looks like it's here for the day as well, feeling cool but no breeze.

    Raggy cat came in about 6:00am a bit bedraggled and been asleep on Mrs chair ever since, Idle little sod.

  2. I'm doing my bit towards helping the bees and have not cut my lawns this year. The grasses at the front & back of our place now vary in height between 2 & 3 feet. Am getting some strange looks and a few odd comments - but I really don't care because my reasoning is right.

  3. Hi Cumbrian. The cattle are about 350 kgs in the top picture. The butchers normally pay just for 'dead weight'. So they only pay for roughly half its weight. So you need to be getting a decent price per KG to make it worth your while. If you kill one your self it will cost at least 200 Euros. Plus you have to take the animal to the slaughter house and then collect it a few weeks later when its hung and chopped into pieces of meat. A lot of the continental animals make the money at the mart and the plainer cross/ traditional breeds don't make much. Yet when you go into the supermarket they don't tell you what meat you are buying. Or you don't ask for 2 pounds of Limousin beef, do you? I have seen family owned butchers displaying their meat breeds.

    At least the cattle will eat the bramble leaves and we can eat their fruits or make it into wine. I once read that you can tell what the land is like if you look at what weeds grow in it. So if it's full of rushes and buttercups it means it's wet land. If you get lots of nettles its full of nitrogen. Good old nettles yet again.

    I was reading my Hannah Hauxwell book again today. She sold her traditional hay meadows to Durham Wildlife Trust. The fields are said to be rich in Flora and Fauna because they never applied man made fertilisers on the land.

    Nice here today. Going to light the range tonight for the hot water and to cok the tea. Home made pork pies, our own poly tunnel carrots and first strawberries from the tunnel.

    Domino turned up today after his day saunter. Much relief from household at his return. Glad to read that Raggy cat his fine and well.


  4. Hi Heron. Yes it sounds like the bees will appreciate your efforts. I wonder how much we spend a year in money and effort cutting hedges and lawns? I suppose if the weather was good,you could save it for hay?


  5. They cut for silage here as well, but just at the back of our big field is a neighbour's field which is left for hay, which is good for our bees, Nice to see photos of your place. And I find it quite lovely that our little band is singing songs about the place you are living in!

  6. Hi Vera. Good to hear that people like your selves still make hay. I have been reading the: European Habitats Directive 1992. It is illegal to destroy birds nests. So I wonder how they allow silage to be made when there are ground nesting birds like the Corncrake hatching and rearing their young? The Bird nesting season in the UK is from March to the 31st of July. I wonder why the EEC don't make very farmer and smallholder save at least one field for hay? Even if the hay crop gets ruined the bees will have got their pollen. I have one little field that I let it grow long to create a natural habitat for wildlife. Think it will need topping later on because the brambles are starting to take over a bit. It's amazing how grazing animals have made the countryside look like it is. Everything would be trees and scrub if it was for our livestock.

    Bantry Bay is very beautiful. I like reading about other smallholders smallholdings all over the world.

    Would you be singing 'Maid of the county Down'? You should post a song or two on your blog for us all to watch. Thanks for your comment Vera.

  7. Noticed a couple of fields been taken in for silage, they must have dodged the showers, they seem to be recovering fast, so another crop later no doubt.
    Everything's growing well here, looking very green everywhere.

    The beef animals seem to be stuck in a cleft stick, but at least they're on grass. Still have difficulty relating the auction price to the price on the butchers counter, as you say they never say what sort of animal it comes from, and I doubt many people would know the difference.

    Pleased to hear Domino returned safe and sound, don't think cats are never fully domesticated.

    More rain this morning but cleared up a bit this evening.

    New car seems OK, CMax Grand, 1.6 diesel and 6-speed box, very flexible, lots of controls I don't know what they do yet. Hoping for the test drive to Liverpool tomorrow.

  8. Hi Cumbrian. There is a lot of pit and round bales silage being made here also. Very mixed weather here. Been raining heavily this morning. Supposed to be thunderstorms and down pours in the UK tomorrow. You don't get many good summers to save hay. Last year was a rare exception.

    Yes I never understand the marts. A 'plainer' animal can go for 1.20 a KG and a continental animal can be 2.20 KG. The dairy cross animal still costs money to raise. It's rare that you see continental breeds for sale in the butcher or supermarket.

    Then there is good old pre-packed supermarket meat. You are probably buying an old sow or a bull. You are far better killing your own or buying from a small family butcher who will have killed the animal.

    I notice that a lot of vegetables in supermarkets don't display what variety they are. You should be able to buy the variety that you like. Again that's the beauty of growing your own.

    You're right cats are almost feral. It's only cupboard love (meal time) and a warm in front of the fire that brings them back. Dogs seem far more loyal and friendly. Carts are excellent rodent exterminators around the farm. I wish Domino didn't kill birds though.

    Just been looking on ther Internet at the CMax Grand. They have come along way from the Cortina and Capri. Every new car looks they have been designed in a wind tunnel - toatally aerodynamic.

    Let me know how the test drive goes. Thanks!

  9. I was watching a tv programme yesterday called down on the farm, it was going on about silage, very interesting.

  10. Hi Bedford Gypsy. It sounds like my kind of programme. Thanks!


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