Farmer Focus: Cover crops will be needed to keep lambs fed

Lambs are growing slowly, although I think now they have got over the barbers pole worm, we should see some more sensible growth coming through.

It just means we are carrying a lot more stock than we thought we would, and with the rain and cold, they are eating a lot more just to keep warm rather than grow.

I may have to phone around some of the neighbours and see if I can grab spare cover crops.         

We admitted defeat trying to get the heavy-duty cultivator moving in this wet weather and went to plan B. This was to shoot down to Brighton with a trailer and borrow Dad’s three-metre powerharrow drill combination (thanks Dad).

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Two trips later, it was all safely in our yard. The usual grease round and change of oil saw it running and a few hundred pounds paid for replacement coulter covers, new headland marker discs and covering tines.

We put it on the little Massey, complete with front and rear dual wheels, borrowed a set of John Deere front weights, strapped those on and away we went.

Final wheat and oats get drilled

In the span of a week – between rainstorms – Ben (our amazing new tractor driver) managed to get the final 80ha of wheat and oats in.

It certainly was a challenge. Ben and James put in three 18-hour days to get it done.

We can now sit back and see what happens. Conditions were appalling, with completely blocked-up dual wheels, and I know the final 12ha was really bad – to the point where the rear packer on the power harrow had to be removed.

The final 4ha saw the coulters block up, so Ben zip-tied the seed pipes to the front of the power harrow just to keep going.

Establishment will be patchy, but I am so proud of everyone for just keeping going and not giving up. We shall see what it looks like in the spring.

It’s had its pre-em and herbicide, so we are hoping with a roll in the spring it will be OK – the way the futures price is looking at present, it won’t have to yield massively to be profitable.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography