Election Day!

As most of the UK sits basking in sunshine and enjoying the heat in this unseasonable heatwave, we after one day of sun yesterday, which admittedly reached the heady heights of 20C (beaten only by one day in the summer which reached 21C) have woken up to swirling mists and a hint of drizzle. Manannan has surely put his cloak on! The thermometer outside is reading 15C.

With over 100 acres of silage down, the internet forecast has swiftly changed from not a raindrop in sight for at least a week, to the opposite, with rain starting tomorrow afternoon, for the next week…. It is so hard to gauge our weather, we have to look at Cumbria, North Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland……

Today is Polling Day here on the island. We have been bombarded with visits from our prospective candidates for the House of Keys for the last few weeks with even 16 year olds being able to vote here. We have already been down to the Polling Station and done the deed, with a long detour around narrow lanes as we have a burst water main down in the village.

Let’s hope tomorrow brings a better day!



1001 jobs to do….

Now we have everyday work of the housed high yielders, needing bedding and feeding,  the ‘lows’ (plus Sandisfarne Laird, by Laudan, PLI 169) have the run of the farm. We did put extra fertiliser on a few weeks ago to try and keep them out as long as possible, the last of the animals hopefully staying out until November. Calving is still going well, even a ‘barren’ cow managed to produce a bull calf which caught us unawares! We have Garrett, Leif, McCormick calves being born to the Black and whites, whilst the Reds are having Ayrshire calves by Tryst and Napier.

With the recent spell of relatively good weather, we have been putting in grass seeds, also lugging in big bales of straw from our own crops of triticale, oats, wheat and barley, plus bales from several of our neighbours. This afternoon we are planning to start mowing down grass for our third crop silage, all of which is done in big bales as we do not have clamps at home. Our rented farm where the youngstock are housed has clamps, which we have filled with wholecrop.

Tomorrow sees the arrival of the ATL team from ‘across’ to finalise the putting in of our 17 ‘out of parlour feeders’ which are spread out all round the cubicle shed. We bought these a while ago, after getting totally fed up with the daily grind of mixing feed, the quoted replacement costs of both the wagon, tractor driving it and the huge fuel bills they generated. We also were finding that we could not help animals that were over-milking themselves in a flat rate system ….. some got fat, some got skinny!!! Exciting stuff… We are looking forward to the first time this Christmas, when all the bales can be put in the sheds ready for the holiday period, so that there will be only the scraping and milking to be done. All we need now is a scraper system; we had intended to put a rope system in but have run out of time….

Our local co-operative Creamery that all the dairy farmers supply to on the island, has managed to land a deal, won in the face of competition from a number of cheesemakers in the UK, selling our mature and vintage cheese to Publix, which has over 1400 outlets in the USA… Great news!!






Calving has started….

After our own bull sired calvings for the last couple of months, with the finale of mixed triplets earlier in the week, the A.I. calving period has started at last!!. We aim to be more autumn calving as it suits our wet/high (450ft above sea level) farm. We find it easier to look after high yielders calving into the shed, turn them out early in Spring, with the animal in good condition and hopefully in calf, ready to walk the distances to grass.

F109 Flame Blackberry EX93(2) just calved the day before yesterday with her 6th calf, albeit a bull by Garrett which we will be keeping for use in the herd. She is unfortunately home bred, but in a line of three successive 100 tonne dams. Her PLI is a very creditable 217, with no individual feeding (batches of cows get so many kilos dropped in the parlour) Her dam Addison Blackberry 2 EX92(2) has a PLI of 192, has done 100 tonnes of milk, with a bull Sandisfarne Garth being tested presently by Genus.

We had a Leif heifer out of a Oman cow last night, so things are on the up, by the way it’s raining (again)!

A new start…

Thought we might make things a little more interesting if we started a blog… we are one of 39 herds milking on the Isle of Man.. when we came here 14 years ago, we made the 100th producer.

We have about 450 cows milking, mainly autumn and spring calving, with I think at last count 14 100 tonne cows milking. Nothing gets any special treatment, closest we get to it is a bunch of fresh calvers and older cows. Our oldest cow T32 LP 130 by Belt is out in the thick of the herd!

Winter is approaching fast, 2 days of gales, boat to the island had been been cancelled, we have had to house the fresh calvers so that the low yielders can stay out longer, trying to get the harvest finished after having had the coolest summer since whenever….