At the end of each year, we always take time to look back over the accounts and see where savings can be made or switched around to more suitable expenses.

This year, it’s a case of the Fs: feed, fertiliser, fuel, and I’m sure you can guess my input into that sentence as I eyed up the spending on those three during 2021.

Although we always stay on the lower side of fertiliser usage, there will be even less purchased next year as we have fewer adult stock than usual.

With our last soil samples showing most of the farmland to be quite acidic, I’m hoping that if we spread lime instead of our usual CAN, it will benefit our pastures to some extent, enough to keep grass ahead of the cows while keeping costs down.


As we always only make one cut of hay or silage, we can then place more emphasis applying the slurry and fertiliser in those fields.

It was a relief to also get the windbreaker installed on the new shed before Storm Barra and any other bad storms arrived and the difference in shed temperature was felt immediately.

In previous years, using the ventilated metal sheeting, air within the shed could be quite stuffy and warm, despite a section of Yorkshire boarding on one wall. We had noticed it could affect the calves at weaning time when they’d sweat due to stress.

This time, weaning went without a cough or a hitch, apart from a few rogues who were cunning enough to wait for the cows to line up next to their pen so they could suckle.

Our winter routine is now in full flow, with this year's selections for replacements in one pen for themselves where they receive about 1.5kg of a calf nut per day along with silage.

Some younger calves in a different pen are getting just under 1kg per day though, like us all, they’d take more of the sweet stuff if they were allowed to.

Working on my plan for having quieter cows coming into the herd, they all get time spent with them each day in order to keep them calm and used to human contact and handling.

Their docility was put to the test as we decided to install LED lighting in our new dry shed and above the calving pens before calving began next spring.

Prior to this we had rigged up a floodlight in the calving area or used a good head torch, but upon seeing the difference with the new lights, we wondered why they hadn’t been put up years ago.

Thankfully the electrician worked away merrily in the midst of the cows without us having to remove them from their pen, with the only danger being his ladder getting nibbled by the cows all wondering what this stranger was doing floating above them.

Certainly if there’s any need for calving assistance next spring, I won’t know myself, both with the new lights and a spare piece of windbreaker installed to block a hole in the boarding above our crush.

Sod’s law meant it was directly above where someone wielding a calving jack would stand and countless nights I got drenched helping a cow needing assistance. There was no fear of the cow needing help choosing a mild, dry night and letting us avoid a 3am shower.