Farmer Focus: Where has the winter gone?

Last month I wrote that the weather had come in wet after a prolonged dry spell. Well, that week of wet was about it for our winter. The ground is now dry and we are unusually warm for early August, with virtually no winter storms (thus far).

With 8,500 lambs and 1,000 breeding ewes all behind 12 break fences on daily shifts, we sure are busy.

I am the maintenance, development and workshop fella around here, but I seem to have found myself seconded to shepherding duties.

See also: Harvest 2020: Spring malting barley crops look good south of M4

As a result, two rows of posts for new fence lines and one machine check-over is about all I have crossed off my to-do list (which also includes extending a shed, building two new head trailers for a new combine on order and re-disking the drill).

I need to crack on as the tractors will be out on spring tillage within three weeks.

Stock condition, growth rates and feed utilisation is outstanding this year and ryegrass crops, which were sown a couple of weeks late due to delayed cereal harvest, have bounced through the winter and are catching up nicely.

We expect to have all the finishing lambs out on new grass seed crops by the first week in September, keeping them closely grazed until closing in mid- to late October.

The feed barley harvest has been sold this week, going into the dairy industry, and we are making progress on selling the wheat crop.

Farm-wise, things are going well, but we all live under the Covid-19 cloud. So far, health-wise we are unscathed, not that I am overly confident that we can hold the tide back forever.

However, we have taken a massive hit economically, much like other countries I guess, with enormous levels of government debt being raised to pay subsidies and job support payments that just simply cannot go on forever.

We have a general election on 19 September and it would appear that the incumbent’s re-election strategy is to delay reality until Monday 21 September. On that day, the economic freight train is due in the station. 


David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on New Zealand’s South Island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.