It has been a couple of years since I sat down to write the Derek’s diary about what’s happening on the farm. I think it’s time to resurrect and see can I give an insight to daily life on Castlemine farm. I suppose a good place to start would be around the 1st September. It may be better to just leave the summer behind us.
The harvest ran on late this year. The winter and spring barley and oats were 3 weeks later than last year and it could have been left a bit longer as it was ripening very uneven but you have to take the good weather windows when they come -the year was moving on and you never know what’s around the corner weather wise. Little did I know that the best weather of the summer was on the way and boy was it welcome.
Even though it was a mixed year with the weather it really suited growing crops. For the first time around here, as I am not growing winter crops to long, I got well over 4 tons per acre from the barley. For those of you who want to know the difference between spring and winter crops. The winter barley for example is sown in Sept and grows right through until July/Aug the following year. It has bigger yields but needs more care and frost can be a problem if it’s really hard but the last few years really suited as the winters were mild. Spring crops are sown in Feb/mar and cut in autumn the same year it doesn’t yield as well but needs less care. My spring crops were better than expected at 2.75 tons of barley per acre and over 3 tons of oats per acre. The sheds are now full to the brim so I am well stock up for the year ahead to feed cattle/sheep/pigs and of course the turkeys.
Some things have changed a bit since I wrote this diary last, we started to rear suck calves- Angus and Hereford from British Friesian cows. We get the around 3 weeks old and put them on powdered milk for 2 months or until they get to around 100kg and are eating meal, then weather permitting they go out to grass. I started this in spring 2014 and its working out well, I slaughtered the 1st of that bunch this summer and got great feedback about the meat. One man said he was eating steak 50 years and never ate anything as good, which is great to hear- something you never hear if you send cattle to the factory, the last thing you hear is the gate closing behind them when you drop them off.
We have 40 cows on the farm well until November at least, as I am getting out of breeding the calves myself and going to buy them at 3 weeks old and rear them on the bucket (i.e. powdered milk).This system will suit me better as I can carry more stock with the cows gone although I will be sad to see the go. I built up the herd myself from the beginning but sometimes you have to do what’s best for the farm and shop.
The lambs are doing well since this dry spell started. They are quite happy lying out in the sun, not like the wet weather when they seem to be on the move all the time. I still have over 200 so that will carry me over until next year’s crop come through. The ram has been out with the first group of ewes since the 1st September so we will get the first lambs in February, they were let out with the second group on the 10th Oct so they will be march lambs. I bought 3 new rams this year 2 Vendeen’s and 1 Suffolk so we will have to wait to see how they work out. I need to buy some more ewes in the coming months as I am down about 20 from last year. We like to have 300 lambing down if possible.
At the moment I am building a new pig shed for my pigs, It’s a system I saw in England, The shed is split up into pens for the different size pigs and they have a straw bedding under them and through a door in the wall they have access to the field so they can get in out of the weather if they like .I hope to have it finished by Christmas and I can increase my pig numbers to keep up with demand.
we have 360 turkeys at the moment, we got them on the 4th August and they are doing really well and looking good, They are all bronze turkeys which we find are full of flavor as they graze on grass during the day and we put them into a shed at night to keep them away from Mr. fox
That’s about all for now, it’s a start anyway. I am going write this diary approx. every 2 weeks so I can keep you up to date on what’s going on so you can get a better idea how the food you buy from us gets to your plate.