Hedges begin to show buds for new leaves and hazel catkins appear. The Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch are in full song. Swallows appear and sweep in through the shippon windows which we specially leave open. As a result of the mild winters we have had recently we have an explosion in the rabbit population. Pheasants are often to be seen and heard around the farm.
Spring sees lots of activity in the field which we have to prepare for the summer grass. If it is dry enough we can spread the muck which has accumulated in the sheds over the winter. The fields then need to be chain harrowed to break up the muck and then rolled to smooth out any bumps.
We also have plenty of outdoor maintenance work such as fencing and drainage. The annual weeds, thistles, nettles and docks need constant attention – mowing and spraying helps to keep them under control. When the soil temperature is high enough, artificial fertilizer in the form of pellets, nitrogen, potash and phosphate is spread on the fields.
We don’t always lamb sheep but if we do, this is when they are born. If we are lucky we also have a kid (baby goat) or two at this time. Our hens start to lay more eggs as the days lengthen. Some will hatch their own chicks – the broody hens sitting on the eggs for 21 days before the chick hatches out by pecking through the shell. We also use an electric incubator which controls the temperature and humidity and turns the eggs twice daily.
If it is dry enough we will let out the cows which have stayed inside over the winter. Most of our cattle are bought in the Spring. Malcolm travels to Wales and Scotland in search of cattle between 15 months and two years of age.- he likes Limousins and Welsh Blacks. Eating just grass the cattle gain about 1kg per day whereas on grass and corn this increases to 2kg per day.