While mainland Europe, the UK and even significant parts of Ireland bask in a heat wave, unfortunately we, in the northwest of the island, aren’t being afforded the same luxury.
Apart from a few days around the June bank holiday weekend, rain, low temperatures and poor grass growth are pretty much par for the course at the minute.
Thankfully, my silage has been harvested in fairly decent conditions, albeit a week to 10 days later than ideal - again, that was down to the weather.
I have a few cows and calves housed at the minute. They were housed partly down to bad ground conditions, but mostly down to lack of grass.
I have plenty of baled silage left from last year, so I took the decision to reduce the grazing stocking rate to try to build some grass covers.
According to recent soil tests, most of my farm is index 3 and 4 for P and K, pH is fairly good and I’m not skimping on fertiliser, but sadly grass is just not growing the way it should be.
Quite a lot of neighbouring dairy farmers are buffer feeding cows as well, so I’m not alone when it comes to being under pressure for grass.
That's one of the disadvantages of being heavily stocked I suppose, especially in the current climate where the cost of meal and fertiliser has increased so significantly.
Now that silage has been harvested and some after-grass is on its way, hopefully the pressure will ease a little.
My wife said to me this morning that the children have two days left at school and they haven’t used any sun cream, while this time last year they were on their second bottle. That about says it all.
The cost of fuel really hit home to me last Friday. The tractor diesel tank in the yard was empty and as the tractor was low and I was planning on mixing slurry, I headed off to the local filling station for a drop to keep me going.
Two drums of diesel, a jar of petrol for the quad and four sausages from the hot food counter cost me over €90.
I suppose I really shouldn’t have been buying the sausages, but if the fried food doesn’t give me a heart attack, then the cost of the fuel definitely will. And, it wasn’t even enough to keep the tractor going for that day.
On a brighter note, my red clover silage sward is doing well. It’s sown almost six weeks at this stage. It was slow to germinate, but has taken a massive growth spurt in the past two weeks.
The canopy is starting to close in well, but I need to get it sprayed for weeds as soon as possible.
There are quite a few seedling docks and some seedling thistles. These weeds are quite easy to get rid of with a clover-safe spray at the seedling stage, but if they get too strong, clover-safe sprays which are weak in nature will not do a good job.
Like many things in life, timing is of the essence. The clover is looking a little yellow for my liking, but I’m reliably informed that this is normal enough. If it was a normal reseed, I’d be at it with a bit of 18:6:12.
But since the whole idea is to try to spread less fertiliser or less nitrogen at least, I’m going to have a little patience. The whole thing is a bit of an experiment, but it will be interesting to see how it pans out. A change is as good as a rest as they say.