For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’d say over 100 years, there are now no cows on my farm.
Just to follow on from my last article, where I was trying to figure out whether I should show my cows in the mart or kill them in the factory, I can reveal I decided to go with the latter.
An agent from a local factory came and looked at them and bid me what I thought was a fair price. I still was unsure what to do, so I mulled it over for another couple of days and eventually decided to kill them.
I asked a friend who kills a lot of cattle for his opinion, and he said: “If the feed's in them, they’ll seldom let you down!”
Seeing as I had fed them, I was interested to see how they would kill and my friend was right, they didn’t let me down.
My cows weren’t massive 800kg cows, but they were all good, young tight cows, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the average kill out of 55%.
I’m sure there will be some reading this that will disbelieve that figure, as I said I was surprised myself; I would have expected a 50-52% killout to hold cull cows, but that’s what they averaged.
So, I suppose you could say it’s an end of an era, but of course, the start of a different one.
I don’t really know how long there have been cows on this farm. I know my father was born in 1938, and I’m fairly sure there were cows here then.
It would have been a dairy farm at that time, where I think over 20 cows were milked by hand, mainly by my granny and her sister.
There was a portable milking machine invested in at some point that milked two cows at a time, but unfortunately that was as far as the dairying went.
My grandfather grew quite a lot of potatoes as well, and at some point, I think probably around the mid-to-late 60s, it was deemed that the potatoes were more profitable than dairying.
So the dairying was ceased in favour of suckling, or 'sucking' as it would have been known.
I can still remember my father milking one cow for the house up until the early 80s.
There were always a few British Friesian cows in our suckling herd, until the powers that be decided that a Friesian cow wasn’t allowed to be used to fill a suckler quota, and that ended that.
There's a lot of history of cows on this farm, so I suppose it’s not nice to be the one to bring that history to an end.
But having said that, I feel no regret. I was afraid that when all the cows were gone that I might, but I quite simply don’t.
At every stage in the process, I thought I might look to change my mind; when I didn’t bull any cows a year ago, I thought I might panic and change my mind, but I didn’t.
When no cows started calving last November, I thought I might feel regret, but I didn’t and when the last cow left the farm, I thought I might feel regret, but I didn’t.
I did feel a little sadness and fear of the unknown ahead of me, but no regret, because I know in my heart it’s the right decision for me and my family at this time.
I simply wasn’t being paid for my time and effort and, at this point in my life, I have a lot of other commitments and responsibilities to attend to.
Here’s to the future, whatever it brings, onwards and upwards.