16 August 2002


Tim Downes

Tim and Louise Downes

farm 230ha (570 acres)

with Tims parents in

Shrops, of which 139ha

(343 acres) is under

contract. The farm is fully

organic, comprising 140

dairy cows plus followers.

Aberdeen Angus beef cattle

are finished and part of the

cereal harvest of wheat,

oats and triticale is

crimped. They also have a

dozen breeding ewes

WE have spent far too long looking at docks – the organic producers nightmare – in cereal fields. But mum managed to find a source of workers keen to tackle them through the Jobcentre on the internet.

A day later, Lisa, Keith, Matthew and Richard plus the family team launched into operation dock destroy. All that remains in fields now is destined for ensiling as crimped wheat and triticale.

The North Wales British Grassland Society trip offered an opportunity to renew old friendships for mum and dad. While they were away, I played my first and last game of cricket for the season, injuring my back in the process of trying to bowl at pace.

While curing a leaking ball valve, Louise had an unfortunate incident bending over the water trough, bum suspiciously close to an electrified fence. She lost her balance in the mud. Luckily it was a large field with no young ears present.

We have been using fly repellent tar on heifer teats to prevent summer mastitis. No dry cows through August has also reduced the risk. The last cow to calve brought a set of twins and we always expect one of each, only to be proved wrong for the second time this year with two differently marked heifer calves.

Cows are milking well and paddocks are maintaining good covers after topping once in the grazing season. We were lucky to miss monsoon-style rain and had a gentle 43mm (1.7in) in the first and last week of the month.

The rain break gave us a chance to complete the last of second cut silage, with red clover/hybrid ryegrass producing a huge crop.

Draining ranks as one of dads favourite pastimes. Recently, he has been connecting pipes in the bottom of the trench and backfilling behind Richard, the JCB contractor, before red clover is ploughed in for wheat this autumn.

I ventured onto the roof of the crimp store to replace a roof light on the worst day of the month. Louise stood anxiously below with Dr Sheree at hand if the crawling boards and ladders moved. The reason behind waiting for a wet day was so I could see the drips to fix. &#42

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