Down on the Farm with Colin Williamson - January

Colin Williamson
Colin Williamson

Well, Happy New Year everybody, thank goodness Christmas and New Year have been and gone.

I’m not really a killjoy, but we have to pray every morning for a good fortnight that nothing major breaks down and have to call someone out to fix it when nobody wants to work.

The geese, ducks and turkeys all got sorted in good time before Christmas, for the all-important Christmas lunch.

We fill all the tractors up with fuel, water and oil before Christmas so that no major breakdowns occur, especially when the fuel gauge doesn’t work.

It’s usually when we are in a rush and haven’t checked the tractors before use and then ultimately they grind to a halt and you spend the next half an hour having to bleed the air out of the fuel system before they will start again.

The only big breakdown was the feed wagon that mixes the silage, barley and grain together.

It didn’t help earlier in the year when we tried (not on purpose) mixing concrete slabs, which she did try her best but they were just to big for the ogre to discharge, and made a dent and hole in the casing.

This too had been working well till Christmas Eve when the hole got rather too big and more mix was missing the trough than landing in it.

Changing all the troughs round on Christmas Eve was a big operation, so I could feed the mix with the front-end loader instead, it’s not perfection but it’s going all right to date.

We took the last batch of suckler cows and heifers inside between Christmas and New Year, all the cattle are in their winter quarters now.

It seems a never ending job just feeding all the stock, with the first job of the day milking cows and again the last job at night milking cows then again, so now we barely have a couple of hours in the middle of the day to catch up on other things.

I know it’s a big operation trying to get all the deliveries in before Christmas, so we don’t run out of any feed over the festive period, but I start thinking of the workload at Christmas in March and take the bull out from the cows and don’t try to serve anything with artificial insemination for about a month.

There’s nothing worse than a difficult calving at lunchtime when you’re supposed to be carving the old turkey for lunch or nearly as bad as trying to get the awkward calf that was born the week before to drink from the bucket.

On Sunday I walked the Suffolk ewes back home to the front of the house as they will be due to lamb in a fortnight – three weeks from there I’ll gradually tempt them inside for the nights so lambing will be much easier.

With the grass still growing a tad it is difficult getting them to eat haylage at all.

They have had feeding blocks up till now, but concentrate will be fed and increased gradually up to lambing as the growing lambs inside the ewe do start to pull them down in condition if they aren’t fed enough.