Down on the Farm with Colin Williamson

Colin Williamson
Colin Williamson

THE lovely open, warm and dry September has allowed us to get the last fields of grass cut and baled up for silage even with the odd mishap when the grass cutter broke down and was out of action for a few days at a time.

The potatoes had grown quite well even though we didn’t plant them till the middle of June.

After digging up ever so many with the gripe for dinner I decided it would be easier with the potato lifter, a little bit anyway.

The machine is hitched to the back of the tractor and dragged down the row lifting soil and potatoes. The soil is riddled out and potatoes are dropped back on top of the ground, still a back aching job (don’t know why we’ve had no visitors lately).

The potato lifter was still in last year’s field, so taking the small David Brown Tractor (990) to fetch it back, it was only about a mile away up Lamplands parked discreetly on the headlands where we had finished with it last year and reseeded round it this spring.

Well we trundled along our road up Lamplands to the field gate were the tractor stopped.

I hadn’t checked the oil before setting off mainly because there was more oil on the outside of the engine than inside.

Obviously, I wasn’t in need of exercise but still had to walk home to get another tractor then towed her up to Joe Goodchild, the agricultural engineer at Newsteads Farm, just at the top of Lamplands.

The verdict was she’s seized and needs regrinding out.

I waved goodbye and thought will it be six months before she comes back, anyway the bloke that grinds the engine out couldn’t do it for 10 days with the work he already had in.

Then, on closer inspection, the clutch was about shot as well.

A new clutch was needed, only the suppliers sent out one part for an 11 inch clutch and the other half for 12 inch.

You would have thought they should know better.

Well I was impressed when Joe rang to say ‘your tractor’s ready for action again, come and get her when you are ready’ before I’d even had to time to miss her, first class I thought.

The heifers that couldn’t decide when to calve most have calved now and are big girls, bigger than most cows and the oldest heifers I have calved for a long time.

We lost one calf, been on the way too long, the mother hadn’t or couldn’t open up at the back end for him to come out.

I kept looking at her but progress was not being made, but you can’t rush heifers with their first calf as damage to the mother can be caused if we go in too early.

Anyway this one needed a lot of massage before she’d opened up enough for the calf to come out.

Unfortunately the calf died before we got him out, but the mother is absolutely fine.

Talk about awkward calves, well one born about a week before this one, the most stubborn awkward little so and so.

I have never been beaten before but this one, even after a fortnight, would not suck my finger to get him starting to drink.

All he wanted to do was spit my finger and then the teat I resorted to out of his mouth.

I had to get some milk into him and as a last resort used a tube and funnel just to get some milk into him, did he get some names called – Bill, Ben, George, Frank even Andy Pandy, all to no avail. I was on the verge of losing him to his stubbornness. So I put him in the cubicle house on his own then turned his mother in, he danced down the cubicles to her and started to suckle. He got a lot more names hurled at him then.