Why do fit people go to the gym? Why are happy farmers well organised? You hear this type of question from people who shake their heads and wonder what the secret is. Little do they realise they simply have the words back-to-front.
Go to the gym first, then you become a fit person who goes to the gym. Get the yard organised first, then you become a happy farmer who is well organised. One leads to the other and there is no coincidence.
This spring I have not been a happy farmer and it was because I was not organised. We lambed extra ewes and the pressure was obvious in our converted cow cubicles. It was hard trying to get silage, meal and straw into them.
Things will always go wrong, but not having a proper plan to manage higher ewe numbers this year meant higher mortality
As well as the strain on the farmer, it also showed in the animals. We had more issues pre-lambing this year than any other year.
Things will always go wrong, but not having a proper plan to manage higher ewe numbers this year meant higher mortality. Two ewes pushed out their intestines and died. Never happened here before. A few more than usual prolapsed.
Grass outside is getting scarce all of a sudden, and I have noticed three or four sheep are slightly lame and generally down-in-the-mouth.
On the weanling side, things were a little easier, but not by much. The 20 weanling heifers are out on grass now, but shifting the fence every day in front of the fodder-rape in knee-deep muck has not been much fun over the past four months. It is a low-input system for wintering cattle, and they did well on it, but there are extra labour costs that are often ignored.
This is not anyone’s fault. It is just the nature of work and life in general
The off-farm job had a big deadline too, which required extra work throughout February, at the peak of lambing.
This is not anyone’s fault. It is just the nature of work and life in general. But again, knowing the farm and off-farm jobs were going to be busy at the same time meant I should have been extra organised.
Having said all that, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I picked out ewes that lost lambs and sold them in New Ross Mart. I also picked out a half-dozen ewes with strong lambs at foot to fill the trailer. Reducing the flock size back to what it was means less pressure for the rest of the sheep and their owner.
Seeing the shed empty out lifts the mood too. The next job will be to clean it out and get ready for the first calves to arrive. They will be put into groups of five to reduce the chances of bullying and increase the chances of being noticed if any look a little under the weather.
Slowly, I am getting organised
Fertiliser will arrive into the yard this week too. This is very late to be spreading it, according to industry advice. But it works for us. And until those industry experts pay for it and then come to spread it for us, with questionable returns in many cases, we will continue to wait for the soil temperature to rise and the ground to dry out before putting the spinner on the tractor.
Slowly, I am getting organised. And slowly, the mood gets a bit lighter.