In my opinion the weather in the past 10 months has been near to perfect for farming here at Lower Hope, and this is continuing as we head out of February into March.
This is such a contrast from this time last year as we approach the anniversary of the Beast from the East.
In the end there was no need to panic applying nitrogen to our winter barley as per my last article, however hindsight is a wonderful thing and it does look better for it.
Lambing is currently our main focus and is going very well. Ewes and lambs are able to go straight out, which is putting less pressure on labour, resources, forage stocks and concentrate usage.
This is all great news for cost control as we continue to enter into uncertain times, particularly affecting the sheep industry.
We have been very lucky to have recruited Hannah Jackson (@redshepherdess) to our lambing team this year.
She has certainly brightened the place up, and done a brilliant job for us. It has been inspiring to hear her story and gain a real insight into how social media can be used to get our positive farming story out there to the general public.
For example, one of Hannah’s short video clips of lambs running around the shed got more than 1,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
The ewes and lambs are strip-grazing the rye and vetch cover crops, which is working very well. The new RAPPA winder is a brilliant piece of equipment and makes the job so much more efficient.
The soil looks to be in good heart after grazing and of course everything is still intact underground.
These cover crops seem to fitting in very well to our farming system as first, they answer our Ecological Focus Area and Countryside Stewardship Scheme obligations, and second, they are providing clean grazing and take the pressure off our grassland at a difficult time of year.
This is on top of providing soil-health benefits, nitrogen fixation, nutrient catchment and water infiltration for the arable enterprise.
Elsewhere, all winter crops are looking well with some early drilled wheat having up to six tillers.
Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha esatate in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland which supports a flock of 1,100 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.