Farmer Focus: Friends dig me out of silage nightmare

We’ve just been harvesting our silage during a week with ideal weather conditions that gave us and many others the opportunity to get crops in.

Things started well. We had a good crop of grass, we had the staff, we had the hired tractor, and we had the weather.

But a field-and-a-half later, the shaft broke on the pick-up reel of the silage wagon, which brought the whole operation to a halt.

See also: Fit2Farm: How to recognise and deal with stress

About the author

Dafydd Parry Jones
Dafydd Parry Jones and wife Glenys, Machynlleth, Powys, run a closed flock of 750 Texel and Aberfield cross ewes and 70 Hereford cross sucklers cows on 180ha. Their upland organic system uses Hereford bulls, Charollais terminal sires and red clover silage, multispecies leys and rotational grazing.
Read more articles by Dafydd Parry Jones

A machine which has served us well for more than 10 years since purchasing it new has let us down for two consecutive seasons. 

When we realised the machine was not in a state to be fixed in a couple of hours, I thought the world was coming to an end. 

We need to put this into context, as this is nothing compared with what people around the world are experiencing at the moment. But many, I’m sure, will relate to the anxiety and desperation we felt.

Plan B was to get the local contractor to bale the silage. And that was the case for some fields. But the open and nearly empty silage pit needed to be filled. 

Friends came to the rescue, with a forage harvester and trailers. But they were not amused at the wiry texture of a recently reseeded red clover ley, which gave the forager a very difficult day chopping it all into the trailers.

Next week will be a contrast, as we’re planning a full week of sheep work. We usually shear during the second half of June, to ensure the shearing contractors have an easier shearing. 

We intend to wean most of the lambs at the same time, and to leave the lambs in their existing field to minimise stress. A few loads of lambs have also been booked to the abattoir to coincide with weaning.

We as a family had a very pleasant Sunday afternoon today. We welcomed a group of farmers from northern Germany to the farm for a farm tour. 

Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal. But a warm “Welsh Welcome”, with a cup of tea and cake (or, as we say, “Croeso cynnes Cymreig, gyda phaned a chacen”) in the shed, helped the situation. Be well.