9 August 2002

FIRST FARM

WEVE now been in Cheshire for four months and have still not met many proper Cheshire people, except salesmen that is. There are another four county council holdings around us that have been let relatively recently and only one to a Cheshire couple. So fitting in here has been quite easy.

Summer so far has been much the same as in Cumbria, dominated by silaging and calving cows (about two-thirds of the herd calve May-July). With me already knowing the cows, Mark feels a bit left out. He decided the easiest way to get to know them was as they calve. This idea started off very well, but then came silage time and Mark going off to work for contractors, and lots of cows calving. Hes now back to square one again.

Silaging at Meadow Farm started very early this year, even though we started to turn out on Apr 4, the grass was already ahead of us due to very little stock on the farm last year. As a result, we made about 2.8ha (7 acres) of round bales on Apr 7 to catch up.

Our search for a silage contractor for the middle of May kept coming up with the same answer: "Youll have to be first or last."

That gave us no option – we had to be first. So we chose a contractor that started later than some, but mainly for the reason that he had a trailed chopper. The silage pit here has seen much better days, so we didnt fancy the speed the grass comes in from these big self-propelled foragers.

First cut for us was May 11. It was not a particularly heavy crop, but made in lovely weather and from young grass.

Our next forage thought turned to summer grazing. Although we are told its quite a heavy farm, we are not used to land drying up as quickly or withstanding as much rain. With so many newly calved cows we got frightened as to what "summer" might bring, so 1.6ha (4acres) of stubble turnips were planted in an area that wasnt growing so well. OK, so this year we neednt have worried.

Second cut was on June 21, but we didnt judge the weather as well this time. It was mown dry and again young grass, but it got rained on before we could get it in. Never mind, at least we have a pit bursting full of what should be quality

forage.

So with our silage gathered in, it left Mark free to go

contracting again – anything to help the milk price.

As I said, very much the same as in Cumbria, even though we are now farming together we still dont see much of each other.