Down on the Farm with Colin Williamson

Colin Williamson
Colin Williamson

A LOVELY October finished with more warmth and sunshine than we could reasonably have prayed for.

The grass is still growing, albeit very slowly now, the cows and all the older young stock are still out and only now are starting to paddle the gateways a bit.

Just as well the stock are all still out as we haven’t got enough room in the buildings at the moment to house them all.

I had the vet in a fortnight ago to pregnancy diagnose the suckler cows and heifers.

Thinking two or three may not be in calf, these could then be sent to the market for cull. Prices for cows over 30 months have been very good at the moment, but only one was pronounced not in calf, a good result for the young blonde bull I bought this spring.

I had one blonde suckler heifer with a blonde bull calf at foot, she was one on her own and was making a real good job of the calf, but one on her own suckling was going to be awkward for housing in winter.

So I booked her into the suckler cow sale at Ruswarp Market.

I thought they looked a real cracking pair together when we loaded them into Arthur’s wagon (Marra was on holiday) and hoped the buyers would like them too.

They certainly did – we actually topped the market. I was very proud of them, for looking so well and producing the stock others like too.

When I read the market report in the Whitby Gazette, the price was mentioned but not me or my name. I’ve never had top price before, so I’ll blow my own trumpet.

It was mooted last year that we might like a change of scenery and to this end we kept every beef calf, both bull and heifer, rather than sell the 6-8 weeks old calves at the local market.

As of now, we are still none the wiser to this end. Whether anyone really knows I don’t know or if it’s all down to back scratching.

So to make room to house all the stock this winter I’ve booked a dozen Blonde bulls that haven’t been out at grass this summer.

They are about eight month old and looking well, they have been on a bit of barley and cake but only fed it once a day so they clean up straight away, with ad-lib hay or haylage to go at all the time.

Also to go with them are a similar amount of Blonde bullocks that have been out at grass all summer.

These are between 12 and 15 months old.

Some of them in both lots are out of Blonde cows so should make fine beef animals when finished.

These are all booked in to the store sale at Ruswarp Market on Wednesday 23 November.

Isn’t it always the same when you’re in a flap to get anywhere?

As I finished milking last night and went to turn off the agitator that circulates the milk inside the bulk tank, I noticed the milk was up a couple of degrees on normal.

Looking inside the tank, I discovered the paddle had in fact broken off from its position and the milk was not been circulated at all.

What a job, the paddle position being a good yard and a half under the centre of the tank (metre and a half for the more educated).

Not wanting to contaminate the milk in any way or collapse into it, as it was plenty deep enough to drown me, a non-swimmer.

After nearly cutting myself in half, leaning over the edge of the tank, precariously balanced holding a paddle in one hand and a bolt in the other, I did eventually get the two back in position to finish cooling the milk.

The dairies soon come down on us if the milk is a couple of degrees high.