Monday, 9 December 2013

Dry December

The cows have been able to go out the odd half day, although there is little grass it is not too muddy and it's useful to let them out when strawing the cubicles. I think they mainly enjoy a comfortable lie down!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Malton again

The last of the big over-year stores today. They have done well with the last two loads all over £1000 each and the first load of two heifers just under. I still have maybe 8 rather younger ones 8-10 months could go, well 4 next week anyway.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Ruswarp Market Run

I've started using a bullet cam on the pickup dash especially when I have the trailer on.
It seems to bring out the worst in some drivers who will shoot out in front of you apparently not wishing to get stuck behind a 'slow' trailer.
Truth is the Isuzu can keep up with the traffic just fine on main roads.
You might think they would consider the effect of violent braking on the animals inside.

No harm done in this incident at Egton road end but it would have been far harder to slow down so suddenly with a heavy load of cattle rather than sheep.
The camera has a very wide angle lens which makes the car seem further away than it was.

There was nothing behind so this saved him/her about 5 seconds.

(NB clock was not adjusted to GMT, done now!)

I do quite like some of the footage the cam captures, although just a gloomy mile or two here it will be interesting to look back at in a year or two.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Winter draws near

It's still very mild but getting awful wet in places after almost 100mm this month.
Even though there was still a fair bit of grass in their field, the big stores came back from Castleton Road today.
Unlike last year when we had a minor stampede back to the field and had to start over (oops), things went quite smoothly despite meeting 4 or 5 cars.
(Thanks to Keith and John for help)

The big shed isn't quite ready so I popped them in the calving shed for now, they have a low light in there which will help them get used to being confined again I thought,
Two of the big Lims are in calf and due December.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ruswarp Suckler Sale

These three were about 11 months old and were weaned and kept inside since about 12 days ago.
Always a bit worrying getting them loaded as they can get in a right paddy, and are big enough to try deranged jumping stunts.
 Gave them plenty of time firstly to gallop round the yard which they thought rather fun, then walk through the passage to the trailer almost on their own.

Prices were well up on previous years, they made just short of £1000

 Robert Smith and helpers sticking numbers on - not mine.

Spotted lurking!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Late silage

Should have got some pictures really, but the red clover sown in May and cropped in mid-August had got to the awkward stage of being rather too big to graze considering the bloat risk and temporary electric fencing required - but hardly enough to bale and wrap I thought.

Anyway last Sunday decided to cut it with the idea of baling it myself maybe 3 or 4 bales at a time and drop it in the feeders. However the best bits seemed heavier than expected, and we had two good wilting days so asked Paul Houlston if they were anywhere near with a baler - and it turned out they would be at Danby on Wednesday anyway, so not a big problem to do only a small number of bales.

So that got done Wednesday morning and as I guessed there was just a dozen bales on about 7 acres!
Still worth having since it looked quite good stuff considering how late it is.

Shortly after they finished there was a sharp shower then much cooler showery weather continued overnight, so really pleased it got tidied up.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Bullet cam trial

I got this little thing the other day, being waterproof it has potential to be used on farm though no doubt enthusiasm will soon wane.
For such a small thing the picture is pretty good.
Could not be easier to use, one button for off and on.

Friday, 27 September 2013


Finished the last bit of barley last Sunday and there was still near 3 tons/acre despite the swarms of pigeons on it all day!
Combine chugged away pretty well and absence of meadow grass from the pre-em spray made cutting low as possible easier - so minimising the number of cut off heads - it had broken over a fair bit.
Straw baled up on Monday and this year there's about 100 bales rather than 37 or something last year!
Nice straw too.

This morning interesting to see a bit more action on the phone mast front with someone 'from planning' looking at the sites the first visit suggested.
As expected the existing Airwaves mast or close to it won hands down.
He thought they would want a 15 metre lattice tower which was a surprise.
The existing monopole is 8 metres I think.

Not sure what the airwaves will think about this, in the past they have implied sharing is out due to (police) security concerns, however there are many instances where Airwaves antennae have been attached to existing phone towers.
Maybe they could share the mast but have a separate small cabin.
At least things are still progressing and hopefully it will be up and running next year maybe even before summer which would be nice when there is most time spent out in the fields.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

wet day

6th September proved very wet with more than 50mm of rain between 10am and 5pm
The cows were across the river but realised they could not safely get back and stayed put till first light today 7th.
It had been flowing across the cricket pitch before dark but has dropped back remarkably quickly this morning.
I think the rain came so quickly that most of it simply ran off rather than soaking in.

There's been some minor fence damage - it seems a lot of long grass type debris caught in them making things worse.

Today is sunny and breezy but cool, I would think if tomorrow is similar the last bit of barley could be done on Monday. In any case later in the week looks decent with warmer temperatures too.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


The spring barley was not sown especially early, but has done well this year with just enough rain to keep growth going at critical times.
There were some limited green patches in Osseker Crook where it had been eaten by slugs then remaining plants had tillered more - so that field had been sprayed with weak glyphosate about two weeks ago.

At the start of this week it all looked about ready but it was so windy on Monday the straw would have blown badly, so started on Tuesday afternoon.
Yields seem good with reasonable but not enormous amounts of straw.

I did headlands on both fields then started Osseker on day 1, all went well and I got four trailers full which is about 20 tons. Day 2 started OK, planning to finish Osseker and get a good part of the near field done so it would be easy to finish today 5th but that went out the window as after a few rounds a main drive belt flew off the pulleys and forward movement ceased!
It was fairly easy to slide back on and was OK for a few more rounds.
When I'd filled the trailer I came home and rang Sewards about it. Seems it is not so straightforward as order belt for Senator 60 - there are 4 different kinds and the safest way is to tell them teh machine serial number and measure the pulley diameter.
This is not easy as the shaft in the middle means a degree of estimation is involved.

I managed to nurse it the last few times round in Osseker - the last three rows had to be done downhill only and creep back up at low revs as it could only drive at operating speed downhill, or the belt just flew off every few yards!

 Anyway hopefully the correct belt is ordered but now it's after 5pm on Thursday and they still haven't arrived to fit it, so won't get much if any done today now.
Rain is forecast for tomorrow but next week now seems fair again but cooler, so no big deal. I got the straw baled up which is almost as important as the grain here.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Kiss Kiss

These nice men have come to investigate possible sites for a new mobile mast shared by two operators!
After most of two decades being frequently annoyed by no service, finally it should happen with a year or two.

We are in one of the first areas covered by the 'MIP'
Mobile Infrastructure Project

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Baled up

One of the easiest hay making seasons in years.
Grass was top quality too and a reasonable number of bales considering the slow start to growth this year.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

First hay baled

Cut last Friday, spread on Saturday and Monday. the top two fields which were reseeded last year and the year before.
There’s about 160 bales off 12 acres so not a bad crop considering it looked quite light when I cut it!
Exceptionally green leafy stuff.
It was 25C most of the afternoon and the main tractor still doesn’t have air-con!

Tomorrow looks like being quite dull again at least until afternoon so probably cutting the last two proper fields as the other one I have down won’t quite be ready – though it could be OK if it were sunny again from mid-morning.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

silage video

Silage in at last

About three weeks later than usual, but truth be told a good crop and got in decent conditions.
It was cut late Monday, a rather damp day and needed all of Tuesday to even mostly dry.
By this morning only the thickest bits were still wet underneath.
They arrived about 9am and were done by 1:30pm

The clamp needed a bit of work though, as the new lad buckraking had made too much of a ridge down the middle so I leveled it about with the loader and have been rolling most of the afternoon.
I'll do the sheet tomorrow, it is a good half day job at best of times.

There's less than last year but we are one field down due to reseeding, if that had been there it would have been similar.
Hoping to do rather more bales of 2nd cut!
I ordered some more fertiliser for it and will put a bit more on than some years.
The reseeded field might realistically be worth cutting late August time too.

Monday, 24 June 2013


After a very showery Sunday today has been OKish with just light drizzly showers and by midday the grass was only a little damp about like dew - so decided to start cutting mid-afternoon.
Tomorrow looks much better and the plan is to wilt until Wednesday.
Since it's quite stalky I probably won't touch it with the swathwilter yet again.

Houlstons have a new Class Tractor and Class mowers front and rear which are a little wider than last machine, but I thought it made hard work in any thicker bits uphill so maybe not much faster.
Took about 4 hours to do 40 acres.
There is a field less this year as I ploughed one out but could not get the replacement sown last autumn.
With any luck the spring sown seeds will be worth cutting late August.

Forecast is reasonable for the week so surely will be much better than the horrors of last year with the wettest silage ever.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Spring Barley herbicide

I'm quietly pleased with the barley this year, after a slow start it looks really well, and I'm glad I resisted temptation to put on a bit more Nitrogen as it seems plenty lush enough.

A few days after it was sown I applied a pre-emergence grass weed herbicide called Kula - this is an off-label use for spring barley but has been a huge success, with almost no meadow grass even on headland (except the odd missed strip, see below).
It inhibits many broadleaved weeds too, but a sprinkle of Fat Hen and Fumitory has needed a follow up with Mecocrop, and I added some Manganese to the tank as we have suspected deficiency.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Not spraying buttercups

Spot weeding docks with Pastor in flowery hay field.
Buttercups are rather over-dominant this year but tend to come and go.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Random cattle

The grass up by Riddings has been awful slow this year but finally got some cows that should be due November onwards up there.

Down Castleton road there are some good ones this year.
This Lim steer by Conan catches the eye.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Rabbit netting

A bit annoyed with BATA last week, on Tuesday I rang to order 200 metres for the bottom of the barley as they were starting to have some serious impact and chilly nights/cool days meant growth was sluggish.

They said it would be delivered Thursday which was fine as I put the stakes in one afternoon and expected to be able to do the wire Thursday and Friday if it came mid afternoon.
By Friday afternoon still nothing had turned up so I rang to enquire - now they said they have none and cannot get it till middle of next week!

I rang Farmway at Stokesley and they have at least 20 rolls.
I went down there and got some then did shopping at Co-op.

By the Saturday evening I had it set, bunnies thwarted.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Snow hole

Quite surprising to find frozen slurry and snow in a pile of semi-solid material on the slurry pit ramp today.
It's been 20C today and 17/18C the last two days.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Empty silage pit

All gone yesterday but there's enough good hay to keep cows going for 7-10 days and then quite a few less good ones they might eat outside especially overnight.
So not too worried - unlike last year when they were on bought in barley straw by now, and it was so wet there was no hope of going out until well into May.

This year it is dry but grass is only just starting to grow - it looks good though unlike some years when it grows early on then gets checked by cold and wet, making it looking yellow or purple.

There are seven 8-10 month olds born last year to wean before the rest go out so should do that either Sunday or Monday.
A couple of those might go to Malton either next Friday or the following week if settled down enough, the others will probably be off down Castleton road for the summer.

Haven't exactly decided what is going out down there yet to be honest!
I want at least a couple of cows with calves so they are a more sensible group.
Last year was a bit of a nightmare walking them the mile or so home, they ran back to the field twice due to scary vehicles bearing down on them. Generally they will follow a tractor with bale on the back and it goes relatively smoothly, but increasing traffic levels in recent years - especially impatient delivery vans is becoming a problem.

Nice rain

Wintry showers this morning really added up to about 11mm.
Late afternoon the sun came out and things looked green despite the cold.
This should be enough to strike the barley so just need warmth now.

Market yesterday

Friday, 26 April 2013

Malton again

Took M+F Simmental twins and a Sim steer which had always been a bit weedy because his Limousin heifer mother didn't have that much milk.
The Heifer twin was a bit disappointing but the others did OK, although they were older than the ones I took last weeks so will have eaten a lot more stuff!
Sunny and springlike until shortly after I took this then large hailstones rattled on the roof.

At home it stayed dry again which is a pity for the recently sown spring barley  -which could really do with a proper soak.
I think there's reasonable moisture at depth but can imagine it emerging over a long time if we don't get rain soon. I got a pre-emergence style spray this year called Kula but it needs moisture to work properly - however it can be applied post-em too,

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cattle to Malton

These four heifers born last April were booked to go to Ruswarp last month but it was a blizzard on the day so could not go.
They could have gone to Malton any week since but I seem to have been very busy with one thing and another, plus today was a special sale.
Prices seem down a bit to me though, I think people are worried about lack of grass and watching numbers going into next winter already with straw looking likely to be a particular problem area.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Yard Cam

I decided to get two more of the Wansview cams so as to be able to see the hidden corner of the calving area and also monitor the yard.
A particularly nice feature is the motion detect which will grab quickfire images of any movement:

Victim #1

Victim #2 - Bede delivering seeds

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Nice calf

Last of the slurry

The pit is getting so low that the sloppy stuff barely covers the stirrer - making it ineffective.

There's a pile of more solid stuff to spread later on the hay fields where sheep are lambing now.
Starting the main fertiliser session tomorrow if not rainy.

Nell seems to find the stirring incredibly exciting, so much so she fell in the other day.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Slurry spreading

This job has been rather delayed but this week has been ideal with dry conditions and not windy.
I've done several hay/silage fields and there is now only 2 or 3 feet of sloppy poop in the pit.
If I get one more afternoon at it there really won't be enough to stir anymore since it needs the blades to be covered.

However there's quite a pile of semi-solid stuff where I push in, especially on the ramp where it had to be dropped during snowy/frosty/wet spells through winter and has formed a sort of muck heap.
That can go in the spreader for the two fields off Kildale road when the sheep are shut out early May.

It would be nice if we got a little rain to wash it in before the mild/warm air gets here on Sunday but after talking that up to a worrying extent earlier it now looks like a very half-hearted event over here by the east coast.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fertiliser at last

Put a couple of 600kg bags of 20-10-10 on the sheep fields today.


Last year’s weed-wiping is starting to look very effective.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cold March

According to the weather station the mean for March is just 1.6C currently which is about 4C below average and colder than any of the winter months which were only average or below.
The sheep are due to start lambing next week and there is practically no grass so it will be difficult for them with more feeding required and attendant problems with mis-mothering.

Meanwhile the calving has been going reasonably well apart from one that decided she didn't like her calf sucking.
It's a good strong one though and is managing to get plenty at least while I have her shut in on her own.
One last night was a few days before time and quite small.
It had got a bit chilled but has soon improved under a heat lamp.

The IP Cam is proving very useful to keep an eye on expectant and recently calved cows. Often as not it shows all is quiet or calves you were not sure about have been busily sucking when they thought no-one was looking!
It can be viewed on a smartphone either on the home wifi or phone data if out and needing to check.

Here's how it looks on the phone - either at home on wifi or away on mobile data

Saturday, 16 March 2013

IP Camera in calving shed

Not sure how robust this will be long term but already it has proved useful in showing that a calf born this morning which I was a little concerned wasn't finding milk is managing pretty well when no-one is looking!

It runs on WiFi linked from the house over the mains cables by Homeplugs.
When light gets too low, Infra Red comes on automatically.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Schmallenberg Virus report

Richard Findlay interviewed for BBC Look North broadcast 15th March

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sheep again

Took 14 lambs Ruswarp on Monday and they were up a little more but still not as good as last year by a way.
They made £65 and £68 for two pens at 42 and 35kg.
Must get the ewes Heptavac vaccine done soon too, have it ready in the fridge.

Slurry spreading

It’s been a very difficult winter for getting any slurry out with any frosty spells not arriving until there was a fair depth of snow so the ground below was still very wet.

Consequently the pit is now brim-full and 2 or 3 times I have needed to use the loader to pile some frozen snow and slurry mix in as it cannot be moved with the scraper.

Yesterday I intended to start by drawing out some water so that it can be safely stirred without sloshing over the edge.
However to get the pipe in I needed to dig away some of the semi-solid stuff I’d shovelled in last month.

Anyway after getting one rotaspreader load of that out, I broke through into the green water under the crust, at first this seemed mildly annoying as it began to flood the working area, then I realised that the flow was such that it was also getting over the concrete lip and running down my track towards the road!

After a moment of indecision I managed to block the main flow off and divert from the track down the field – and only a small amount got to the road which I also let off onto the field.

Since it was still almost level full I hitched the tanker on and got two loads out which made things look more under control.
Then when I started drawing load three the vacuum pump made a very strange noise and suddenly stopped working!

Today Dave from George Agar came out first thing and we unbolted it and he took it back to the shop to work on – I was really surprised when he got back with it fixed soon after 2pm!
It was a fairly simple job involving replacing vanes by the sound of it.
we tested it on a load then later today I sucked out another 5 loads so all is safe now ready to stir and have  a proper spreading session very soon.

It still seems very sticky after the recent frost/snow melt and drizzle although basically no longer very wet like late last year.
We just need a dry breezy day really.
So I might have a couple of days spreading manure piles on the stubble which does not involve constantly going in and out of fields dragging mud onto the road.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hedge Cutting

This job has been problematic with it being so wet and then snowdrifts often in the way!
The old David
Brown is not ideal for the job but since it does little else in the winter the machine can stay on for weeks.

It is quite a job mounting and un-mounting even though it fits on the links - some bigger machines are fixed under the tractor which aids stability.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

First 2013 calf

Must say there had been an element of worry as calving season approached with reports of problems due to Schmallenberg locally and major issues on some farms down south last year.
It is known to have been active through the area last summer but there is thought to be only a brief period during early pregnancy when calves can be affected, so in our case with a relatively spread out calving pattern it would seem unlikely that too many will be affected.

Anyway this first one was due on the 8th but being a limousin some lateness is to be expected.
I helped it out with the calving aid early afternoon and it was up and sucking within the hour.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Microsoft blog writer

Having just downloaded the windows live package to update moviemaker, I thought I would try the blog writing tool also.
Setting up seems fairly easy anyway but it will need a few experimental posts like this to decide if it is better than logging in to blogger.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sheep prices

After going into something of a slump through January they seem to be up a little this week but it is unclear if this is a proper trend due to the lower pound, or as some say a weather-delayed consignment from NZ!

The ones I took to Ruswarp Monday were 44kg and 46kg and made £54 and £58.
This is still down on 42kg ones sold December for £64 but a couple of weeks ago they would have barely made £50 by the sound of things.

Meanwhile store cattle are still in great demand.
Two plain looking Limousin steers which were twins who had been bucket fed (as their mother died) got to £850 at Malton last Friday.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Back to normal

Well after the weeks of Christmas followed by rather too much snow, managed to actually sell something today - took twin bullocks to Malton and had a word with K.A. about two elderly cows I have been babying in a box on their own - as they were going downhill roughing it in the main group.

The bullocks were really rather plain as they lost their mother at about two weeks old, and were bucket fed - always the smaller ones that got pushed out as they got bigger.
They still made £850 which was more than a couple of hundred over my worst fear.
Then  K.A. said he could come pick the cows up today which was unexpected as I was thinking maybe next week.
However with a bit of snow expected both tomorrow and mid-week it was good to get them away, as one in particular was looking rather frail and barely holding her own.

So when I got home it was a quick scrabble around to find the passports and put a replacement big tag in one of them.
They loaded quite well and will now be stuffing their faces at Malton for a couple of days.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Thaw underway

It was surprising how rapidly the snow cleared off wide areas yesterday, and sheep suddenly lost interest in gobbling hay bales!
Yesterday the cows managed to jiggle open the cubicle house door and had a 10 minute gallop around the field as if it were spring. They soon came back in when a sleety hail shower lashed down.

 It is still extremely wet with many fields having areas of slushy snow sitting in pools of icy water.
The road up to Ralphs Cross is still blocked by drifts, I suppose they may get it done tomorrow when it is expected to get near 10C!

 I need to go to BATA at Kirkbymoorside for a few bits to tide us over until main delivery early February which will be Thursday next week.
I see there is a hint that a further cold spell is likely in 10 days or so, at least we are getting nearer to spring now and the sun has a little power so prolonged freeze ups get less likely.
However the snowiest spells of winter often occur in February or even March ...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Last of the snow?

For a while maybe. There was probably only 3 or 4 inches more through the first part of the night but the drifting was severe. The lane to the village became impassable before 9pm as our neighbour discovered.
Meanwhile the vet next door who had sensibly left his Landrover Discovery in the village managed to get his tractor stuck while by-passing a drifted section. It actually drove out on it's own later when I had cleared up to the front of it with my own Zetor + loader bucket.
It's been up to 4C today so a proper but slow thaw is underway.

Friday, 25 January 2013

A drifting day

Wind got up today and there is some concern the last years lambs (=hogs) might get buried despite being fed down near Tower Beck.
The wind is sweeping straight down from Ralphs Cross this morning and a significant further snowfall is expected this evening before slow thaw tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

January snow and slow

January started with the usual post Christmas and New Year problems as routine deliveries of feed and the like were somewhat out of sync.
Worst of all were the binmen who seem to have been completely at sixes and sevens since the first slightly icy day in early December! Although it is hardly serious it does grate when the farm pays SBC about £250 yearly to collect waste such as silage wrap but they either don't come or whiz past on random days later in the week when bins have been brought back inside so as not to get blown over.

The first markets after the break don't much appeal as it is easy to imagine sellers overly keen to push stock away to bring some cash in. 
Lamb prices seem rather ridiculously depressed with the last sale at Ruswarp (21st) showing very few making more than £50. This is very disappointing as costs have been high this year with difficult lambing season, wet summer and autumn and generally much increased feed prices.

The weather was reasonable until mid-month when a quite severe spell descended suddenly - with significant snow then some very cold nights. Lowest temperature was -11.6C which is enough to make keeping water troughs running difficult even well inside the sheds.

The sheep suddenly went from a bale weekly to a bale every other day and it is troubling seeing the shed emptying much faster than previously.
It sounds like we shall have a sudden thaw during the last week and will be more worried about mud, floods and gales again.