Category Archives: Farm Table News – a chat about farming

2010 – THE LAST WINTER THERE WERE COWS HERE ON THE FARM

 

Doesn’t time go quickly.  In 2010 I wrote saying that the winter of 2010 would the be last winter we had a herd of milking cows on the farm.  I was saying goodbye to the slow old cows.

http://birdtablenews.com/2010/01/the-is-the-last-winter-there-will-be-a-dairy-herd-here-goodbye-you-slow-old-cows/

It was a complete change.  No cows to milk twice a day.  No herd of cows to walk in an out of the fields in summer. 

The farm has changed completely.  We don’t have to have fences to keep the cows in.  We don’t have to have as many grass fields.

We got to know the milking cows because they were here for quite a few years – and they got better looked after than I did!  It was there home.

But, we couldn’t make any money.  The price of milk we were being paid was too low.

FARMLAND BIRD SURVEY

A survey done by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds shows we have these species of birds!

Barn Owl
Grey Bunting
Grey Partridge
Yellowhammer
Reed Bunting
Linnet
Lapwing
Skylark
Tree sparrow
Turtle Dove

The survey also says that cattle grazing within the mixed farm environment is highly valuable to a range of birds feeding on the increased invertebrate supply associated with livestock – especially swallow, tree sparrow, lapwing etc.

It is a pity that this is not realised more widely. There will not be any cattle grazing within the farm next year. The dairy herd is being sold this winter. The price we get for the milk we sell is just too low. No cows coming in and out of the field each day in spring and summer. The end.

THIS IS THE LAST WINTER THERE WILL BE A DAIRY HERD HERE. GOODBYE YOU SLOW OLD COWS.

This is the last winter we will have a dairy herd of cows on the farm.  It will be very strange next winter.  But nice.

We also rear calves from birth.  We won’t be doing that next year as we won’t have any cows.

It will be so nice not to have to go out on a Saturday teatime to feed the young calves warm milk after the milking has finished.  Let me count how many calves we have a the moment that we give warm milk to. We have about 7 pens with 4 calves in each pen.  They have to be fed milk twice a day.  It takes so much time.  In this freezing weather we’ve had to wrap up warm.  I will be able to watch Saturday night TV and get tea over before 8pm.

It is sad in a way that this farm as a dairy farm is coming to an end.  It started as a dairy farm in about 1946 and there has been milking going on twice a day EVERY day since then.  JUST IMAGINE WHAT CHANGES HAVE HAPPENED SINCE THEN.

In the past the milk was put into churns and taken to the local dairy.  the milk did not travel far at all.

In the past there were more than one dairy farm in some villages.

In the past farmers walked their cows through the village and across roads to get them to the pasture.

What other things have altered since 1946 Iwonder?

You would have thought that in a country that only provides 50% of its food there would be ways to make money from producing good fresh milk.  But no. 

Dairy farmers have been leaving the dairy industry (and it is an industry, albeit a caring one) for a long time.  Welcome to the fresh milk from abroad era.  But then again I don’t think we have been self sufficient in milk since milk quotas came in.

I wonder if people ever wonder how much it costs to produce a pint of  milk.

Also, after milking twice a day farmers come in and there is such a lot of paperwork to do.  

When I first came to live here, which is many, many years ago, I thought ‘people will always need fresh milk’ .  I never thought that price and not making a profit would ever enter into it.

I seem to remember one politician saying (some time last year maybe) that we should buy all our food from abroad and build houses in the countryside.  Are they mad?  They don’t seem to realise how important food is.  People take food for granted.

It is within living memory that people died trying to bring food to this country (Second World war)

Back to birds.  They will be here long after I’m gone.  I saw two blackbirds on the birdtable they seemed to have an arrangement as to which one pecked and which one did not.  No fighting – just what seemed like organised co-operation

HAVING TO SELL A DAIRY HERD WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO

This will be us next year

Click the link to read about the farmer

We weren’t let down by Dairy Farmers of Great Britain like this farmer has been, but all dairy farmers in Britain are finding it nearly impossible to make a living from providing milk.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/6958013/The-dairy-farmer-reduced-to-tears.html

Quote
”Every dairy farmer will tell you how he worries about his cows,’’ Mr Rickatson says. ”We British farmers pride ourselves on our high standards: cows need a lot of attention. And you get to know their ways. It sounds silly but in a way I felt as though I had let my cows down. Betrayed them somehow. How would they fit in with another herd?

Harvest 2009

Harvest 2009

Harvest 2009

We’ve been busy harvesting the corn.  We have barley which we keep and feed to the stock.
We have wheat corn that we sell.
It’s a constant battle against the weather because the corn cannot be wet when it is harvested. 
Corn can be put through a corn dryer but (but not when it is really wet as it clogs the dryer).  Putting it through a dryer costs money and  corn prices (the price we are paid for corn) are very low this year
We had a good dry week and all the corn is in.
We have corn storage sheds where we can store corn and sell it at different times of the year. Some farmers don’t have storage sheds and have to sell the corn straight after harvest – when the price may be really low.
We keep the straw to bed up our calves, cattle and other stock.  This means after the harvest we are busy baling the straw into large round bales which we  bring back to the farm on tractors and trailers stack in the fields.  We  use straw every day throught out the winter to make sure the stock have a good straw bedding when they are inside in the sheds.
Crops seem to have yielded well but there is not much straw in among the crops.  We have  to buy so much straw in every year as we don’t have enough of our own.  This straw is dear to buy.
Now harvest has finished  I’m don’t have to do meals late at night when The Husband comes in from being on the combine all day. 
The extra weekend working has finished now.  We still have to milk the cows twice every day, but things have quietened down.

Harvest Past

Here are some memories of how corn was harvested in the past

When the corn in the stooks is dry, a few weeks later we all go up to Farm to ride on the waggons going up to empty the harvest fields.

The waggons are painted carts with wide ledges round them.  Two horses pull each one, swinging their tails to keep the flies away.   We sit on the ledges hanging on like grim death.  The waggons rattle and bump down the road on huge wooden wheels.

Sometimes my Uncle Art sits on one of the horses.  He always picks a wild rose to stick in his cap.  He laughs like mad when we shriek that we are sliding off and makes the horses go faster.

When he isn’t laughing, he is whistling or singing at the top of his voice, all the way to the fields.

We have to walk all the way back.  The waggons are piled up high with the sheaves, to take them back to the farm. 

Sometimes the men haven’t piled them on properly and they will shout “hey up! It’s going to shut”!.  A pile of sheaves shoot out from the middle, then all the lot topples onto the road.  They have to pack them all on again. 

When the sheaves get to the stack yard some men with pitch forks build them into a stack.  I think they must be very clever to build them up so neatly.

They never “shut” but loads of mice jump out.  The dogs love stacking days as they chase all the mice about.

Soon it will be crab-appling and brambling time.

Connie Spendlow

DAIRY FARMERS DISAPPEARING

Foreign imports of milk are cheaper than British dairy farmers can produce.

British dairy farmers could be forced out of business by cheap imports of milk.

Years ago British steel was too expensive and could be produced cheaper abroad.

Same went for coal.

When dairy farmers have gone bankrupt and there is hardly any milk being produced in Britain will the the EU countries still keep the price of milk low.

Did they do this with steel and coal?

Looking after a dairy herd is a skill that takes a long time to learn.  It used to be passed down in the family.  Now young people know they will not be able to earn a living from dairy farming. 

It must be a sad day when a dairy herd that has been on the same farm for years has to be sold at auction. 

When I was nobbut a lass there were three or four dairy farmers in the village.  The milk was collected in churns and went to be processed locally. 

The cows in the village  were sometimes herded through the village streets  to and fro to the milking parlour, depending on which field they had been grazing in.

The village was busy with farming.

The milk went in churns to a local dairy.  So the carbon footprint would have been minimal.

But that was a long time ago and is a long way away from where we are now.

I wonder if we will all end up using powdered milk.

We only produce 60% of our own food and we are one of the most populated countries in the world.  We are about ten times more densly populated than France and America. 

The politicians should be thinking long term of our food security, but they don’t. 

What if the imports of food dry up? 

What if there is a few years of bad harvest all over the world and there is no excess food to be imported to Britain. 

What if the price of food that is being brought into Britain sky rockets and becomes a luxury

One of the signs of a third world country is the fact that it cannot feed itself. 

Am I scaremongering.  What do you think?

Farming

The National Farmers Union has been receiving an increased number of complaints about supermarkets demanding back payments and over-riders from farmers, and also supermarkets cutting the price they will pay.

There are plans to have an Ombudsman for the farming industry, but supermarkets are trying to block this.  Also some people say that an ombudsman would make the retail prices higher.

We’ll see what happens.

I do know supermarkets have such power, yet I remember a time before supermarkets.  I have seen them grow and become more powerful. 

Supermarkets are powerful, but in reality the farmers must be more powerful than all the supermarkets put together. Without farmers there would not be any supermarkets

Loss of Farmland

We import 40% of our food.  China is self sufficient in food

There has been flooding in areas of land in East Yorkshire.  A lot of  the land that has been flooded is  grade one prime agricultural land and is some of the most productive land in the country. 

The Environment Agency has said it is not prepared to improve the flood defences from tidal surges and increase in flood levels.  The Environment Agency says ‘If the value of the property in the area does not justify the spending of money on the defences, then the area will be abandoned to the sea”

It does not take  into account the value of the land and the ongoing value of the food this land will produce.

Surely the Environment Agency should spend a few million a year for the next few years to defend our land – which produces food.

We take food so much for granted here.

 What would the Dutch think to this way of thinking.