Farmer Focus: Rain leads to slurry problems

It’s now the end of January. Looking around the Dale, it looks very dull. The landscape is uneven, as there are periodic brown mounds dotted all over. Mr Mole is having yet another ball. Since the abolition of the use of strychnine we have continually seen a huge increase in the mole masses, despite the labour-intensive mole catching we have been doing.

The rain has been relentless this winter and this has led to slurry problems. Our store is not covered, so every time we have a lashing of rain (which is currently every day) the store kindly refills itself. Thank goodness for our neighbour Mr Mudd. We store slurry in his store all year round and in exchange he has access to the slurry for his land (Mr Mudd did not restock with dairy cattle post foot-and-mouth). Despite this luxury we have still had to go onto land that really is not sound due to water saturation levels.

We really could do with Jack Frost. I am sure if he arrived we would have a “brownout” in the area for a few days.

No moaning allowed, however, having seen the plight of the farmers on the Somerset levels. Common sense needs to prevail here – according to historical sources these areas have been drained by people since the Domesday Book. Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than your home, your buildings and land being submerged in water – not for a few days, but for weeks on end and two seasons in a row.

The cows’ feet are continually on my mind these days. The luxury of the crush has brought about a new regime, which has meant we have to complete a number of cows’ feet each week. I have six lined up for this afternoon.

Despite the dreary weather I can’t help feeling somewhat optimistic and having seen the fantastic “Welcome to Yorkshire” trailer for the Tour de France Grand Départ route in the Dales, I’m proud of our heritage and for once grateful to live on land that is more than 500 feet above sea level.

Adrian Harrison farms 81ha in partnership with his father Maurice in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. He runs 130 pedigree Jersey cows with 70 followers. Milk is used to make Wensleydale cheese.

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