After a month-long break with no new calves arriving, we’re all set up to welcome the next few to come along. Straw bales have been ordered and delivered, and new boarding installed along the side of the shed where the windbreaker netting was unceremoniously torn away by storm Isha. In hindsight, we should probably have gone for the boards to begin with, as not only do they look better, but they also allow better ventilation to the hay bales inside the shed itself.

Pre-calving minerals were introduced a few weeks ago, fed in a small amount of daily ration for each cow as they are currently on a half-hay, half-silage diet. Now, all we need are calves to arrive, and in the case of the next cow, it could be multiple at once, as she is starting to look like a cow carrying twins. With a history of having twins previously, she’s been watched attentively as four sets of twins over the last few years have all required intervention. While I’d prefer one calf to two, there’s no way of sending one back at this stage, so all we can do is wait and see what arrives.

At least there’ll be plenty of space in the shed for calves this year, as the weanling bull we brought home six weeks ago has found a new home just down the road from us. While it’s debatable as to whether we made money by bringing him home, this time we’ve avoided sellers’ fees and stress on the bull by selling him privately for roughly a thousand with his weight.

It’s been quite a few years since we injected cows to start them cycling again, but as our first two to calve had yet to show any signs of coming into heat, we decided to bring them on in the hopes of getting some planned early calves next year.

Both had also been showing signs of loose dung so, to make life easy on ourselves, they each got a fluke dose while in the crush. A couple of others have also been chosen for selective dosing but as they’re heavily in-calf, they won’t be done until taken out to the calving pens.

Training has also started with our September-born Limousin bull, something which I like to undertake from a young age, if possible. While he’s not too amenable walking on the halter just yet, he at least has docility going for him as he didn’t even bat an eyelid when the rope was placed on him first. The only issue this creates is that he prefers to stand stock still and get combed or scratched, instead of learning that he’s supposed to walk beside me, though it’s certainly preferable to being dragged around the pen.

Despite a heavy dumping of snow on the first of March, we’ve managed to start a few small bits of vegetable planting, with some early potatoes going in, along with a couple of hundred onion sets.

Along with this, we’ve been meaning to plant a few fruit trees around the farm, and after losing some ash to dieback, we figured this spring was a good time to begin replacing those we’ve lost. For now, we’ve started simply with a couple of eating apple saplings until we see how they take off. When I tally up the amount of apple tart consumed in this family, it could be a good investment in the long term.