Farmer Focus: My rain dance has clearly worked

I think I maybe the most hated man in Hertfordshire at the moment. After begging for the past two months for rain, it has come. It has come and not stopped.

The county seems to be awash with black wheat and flat oats. I know given another week of steady weather the vast majority of crops will be done, but in the meantime I am keeping my head down.

The direct-drilled oats and berseem clover are going strong and have almost achieved ground cover. Clover is getting hammered by weevils, so Jo has blown over with some Cypermethrin. That seems to have given it enough of a break to get away.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

The mustard as usual has absolutely flown out of the blocks and achieved four true leaves already.

Thistle topping

We have also bought a topper and are attacking our thistle problem as best we can, although three punctures in one day has taken the shine off that a little bit. We will get it sorted.

I think we are a bit late this year to catch the thistles. We could not find a topper for ages, despite looking.

An apology is needed. To all my neighbours who are having thistle seed blow across their fields – I am very sorry. Now that I own a topper instead of having to borrow one, in future I will get them before they go to seed – I hope. 

Growth rates appear good

Lambs under the solar panels are coming on very well – I hoped to have some daily liveweight gain figures to share with you, but that will have to wait until next month.  We will be moving them off the panels over the next few days to fresh grazing.

Ewes, having been weaned, are piling on condition, which is great. The 2007-born ewes have been put in a “cull” paddock along with obvious skinnies and we will be checking teeth and udders to try to find a few more to join them.


Rob and Jo Hodgkins, Hertfordshire, produce lambs for Tesco and breeding sheep through Kaiapoi Romneys on 330ha of grazing licenses. Farming without subsidy means sheep must be functional, lamb outdoors and produce lambs on forage alone.