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LATEST NEWS - 'Linda's Log'

FARM DIARY EARLY SUMMER 2017

Lots of things have happened since my last blog. We have finished calving with our AI bull and ended up with 10 bull calves and 14 heifer calves. We would have preferred it the other way around but we are just pleased they are all healthy and growing well.

They are doing so well, we have been asked by Mole Valley Farmers in Holsworthy if they can use some photographs they took during their recent visit to us on their promotional material for the beef industry!! The new AI bull we used has certainly produced some well-shaped calves, this was a new venture for us (previously we kept our own bull) but has been very worthwhile!

Many of you, who follow us on our Headon Farm Facebook page will know that we did rather well at Exeter Market when we sold our 2016 yearlings. We got awards for the top pen of heifers, second best pen of heifer and second best pen of steers. This market has nearly 800 cattle going through it and in that area there are lots of very good beef farmers, so we were chuffed!

The cattle are all out in the field now and they love being let out of their winter quarters and so do we as it cuts down the daily feed round, bed up routine. This of course makes way for other jobs, one of which was the planting of the spring barley (our second year of doing this), for the winter feed.

Last year arable crops in this area were down on yield, but the barley we produced was fed to our yearlings that sold in Exeter Market. It did a very good job as the cattle reached optimum weights a month earlier than the previous year when we were using a different feeding regime.

To plan the spring barley first of all the field has to be sprayed to kill the weeds, then the winter dung is spread on the fields, it is then ploughed, harrowed, the seed is drilled and rolled in. All of these jobs are weather dependent but we have been blessed with a fine Spring which allowed these jobs to be done at optimum times. Let's hope the rest of the growing year is kind and we have an improved yield this year.
We have had the swallows and house martins arrive, a week later than last year. Sadly, so far and for the second year, we haven't heard the cuckoo. We usually hear the singing coming from the wood down the hill. Richard's Gran used to recite a verse to us about the cuckoo when she was alive and I like to include it each Spring time and remember her. It goes as follows:
The cuckoo is a pretty bird
It sings as it flies
It brings us good tidings
And tells us no lies
It sucks little bird's eggs
To make its voice clear
And when it sings 'cuckoo'
The summer is near.

We have also just completed our firs cut of silage, the bales have been wrapped and are being brought in as I write. For those who don't know, silage is the preserved grass that our cattle eat in the winter when they are in the housing sheds. It is important to make dry, good quality silage as this improves the feed quality for our cows.


We round bale and wrap our silage as we find this easiest to manage when feeding the cattle. You can see the bale wrapper in the picture working in one of our fields.

FARM DIARY AUTUMN 2016
We have been truly blessed with an amazingly dry October which is such a bonus allowing us to get on with the jobs required at this time of year. The cattle came into their winter housing at the end of September because at that time we had a very wet period and not enough grass in the fields for them to eat. However, we do have plenty of round bale silage to feed them when housed so took the decision to 'bring them in'.
Perfect Weather!
The cattle now get the best of both worlds, they are able to sit out in the open passage way when it is dry and sunny, but when it is wet they have cosy dry beds to sleep on.

We have changed the way we do things a little this year. You may remember we have used the artificial insemination method of getting the cows in calf this year rather than keeping a bull. We are hoping for some lovely, healthy, strong calves starting around February 2017. Another thing that has changed is we have grown an arable crop of spring barley for the first time this year. We had more than enough round bale grass silage left over from the 2015/2016 winter so decided to grow 22 acres of spring barley. The barley is the basis of the cow pellets the cattle are fed, plus the crop also provided us with barley straw. In our opinion the best type of straw.
So our bills from the feed merchant and straw merchant will go down as we have been able to produce our own! We have needed to make a dry storage area to keep the barley clean and dry. It will be milled with protein and molasses added to make into the complete feed for both the cows when necessary and the 2016 calves which are growing at a rate of knots!

I'm small am I not?
As I write we have nearly completed the annual hedge trimming task which tidies up the hedges. Trimming the hedges encourages them to grow from the bottom so they don't get to thin and tall. This in turn helps keep the cattle/sheep in the fields.
Hopefully in the next Farm Diary I will be able to report on the arrival of the new baby calves!


Bounty!
FARM DIARY EARLY SUMMER 2016
Spring 2016 has been a strange one weather-wise. For a while the grass seemed slow to get going and we were concerned about having enough grass for the cows when the left the winter housing to go out to the fields for the summer. Then, within a week or so, it warmed up and the grass grew like mad!! (I'm sure your own lawns were doing just the same)! To the great delight of the cows they 'went out to field' on the 13th of May this year.
Freedom!
The protective mothers completely abandoned their calves- tails up - galloping off to eat fresh grass! Eventually the mooing of the calves reminded them they'd left something behind and they soon coupled up again.
This year we've done several things differently to previous years at Headon. One example of this is we have planted 22 acres of spring barley as winter feed for our cows. Like many farmers, we have an excess of round bale silage left over from the winter of 2015/16 and so don't need to make so much grass silage feed for this winter. Fortunately the soil conditions on a block of 22 acres of our land proved suitable to grow spring barley so in the spring we ploughed up the grass fields, harrowed them and planted the seed and kept our fingers crossed.

Preparing for Arable
We're not very experienced at this arable lark and it seems that at any time the crop can fail due to weather, rabbits, pigeons, disease, pests etc... However, at the moment the plant has risen out of the ground and seems to be growing!! This crop will also give us the straw that we would usually buy in so will be doubly useful. Will keep you posted!!
As we don't need to produce a large quantity of grass round bale silage this year we have cut the fields we needed to cut earlier than usual which was a relief as at our usual silaging time the weather changed for the worse and it would still be in the fields. As many of you who read this newsletter regularly will know, so much of what we do is based on the weather conditions!

Another change to our usual practice is this year we are not keeping a bull to produce the next year's calves; we have gone down the artificial insemination route.


What's going on?
Although cost wise it is on a par with keeping a bull by using a nominated inseminating bull we can gain the characteristics we are seeking to improve our herd. It also has the added safely bonus as you can never be too careful when dealing with a bull. It may be that we revert to the previous system but we felt it worth 'giving it a go'. When the cows are pregnancy tested in the coming weeks we will know how successful it has been.
One disappointment this year is that in our area we haven't heard the cuckoo. Along with the arrival of the swallows and house martins, this Spring event signifies the end of winter and the coming summer for us. We all try to be the first to hear the cuckoo but as yet this has not happened. Not sure what this is a sign of but we keep our ears out!!
Summer Visitor!
Following a very warm fortnight the weather has slightly deteriorated but many have predicted a long hot summer - let's hope they are right!!
FARM NEWS DIARY - SPRING 2016
As I write this diary it is a beautiful sunny day, albeit with a cold wind. On the whole, it has been a wet winter and very windy on occasions. The wind has taken off some slates from our farm buildings and we are just waiting for this to be repaired. The good news is that we have started calving!! The first calf was born on the 12th February (a very small little heifer calf - I think she was bit early). Since that time we have had 14 calves born with the tally being 7 bulls calves and 7 heifer calves. Now our herd is at the number of cows we can house and calve-down we would prefer bull calves mostly, but we are grateful that everything so far is alive and born without incident. We have another 8 to calve including 3 maiden heifers who will be having their first calves. Let's hope it all goes without a hitch! The calves are very cheeky and escape their mothers and gather in little gangs. When the mother's udders get tight with milk they start moo-ing for their calves & it can get very noisy until they are reunited!!!
Proud Mum!
The sheep that visit us in the winter to eat off our grass have mainly returned to their home farm to have their lambs. We did get a few early lambs born here. We still have some of last year's ewe lambs here but they will also soon return home as they've eaten most of the grass.
This spring we will be doing something different with 3 of our fields. Last year we produced more grass round bale silage than we needed (the grass grows and we must deal with it)! We have a large stock of round bale silage that will carry us into next winter.

First Calf 12/2/2016
So, this year we will be growing some Spring Barley which will be harvested with a combine and give us barley and also straw (both of which we currently buy in for our beef herd). The ground will need ploughing and cultivating to get the crop to grow so we have purchased some second hand equipment to do the job.
We will soon have a plough and power-harrow (to break down our heavy clay soil in readiness for the seeds). Like most industries farming is ever-changing and we need to react, doing something new to meet the demand for feed. Some of you may be here when the combine harvester is here later in the year.
I've got a brand new Combine Harvester!!
The ground we farm is not renowned for arable crops as its wet, but we need enough to feed out cattle and certainly won't need more grass (which we do seem to be able to grow)! Fingers crossed for a dry time to till our barley and 8 more healthy calves and mums!
NEWS DIARY - AUTUMN 2015
Well, summer has left us now and we will soon be thinking of bringing our cattle into the sheds for the winter. The fields are getting quite wet and we don't want to spoil the pastures for the next season's grass. For those who have regularly read our Farm News you will know that we are always looking forward to the next season and how much influence the weather has on our timing decisions.
Jofrey Hans
We have plenty of feed for our cows and calves coming in for the winter, but as I write we are awaiting a delivery of barley straw which we use for bedding. Hopefully this will come soon! We buy our straw from 'up country' as the soil conditions in this area are not good for growing cereal crops. We usually have an articulated lorry load of big bale straw which is dispensed into the cow cubicles with our very ancient straw chopper tractor!
Last month our cows were pregnancy tested and we were delighted to know that 85% of them are in calf - due February 2016 onwards. Our pedigree stock bull, Jofrey Hans had done his job, but sadly, as his daughters are due to come into the herd next year; we have had to sell him. When he came to us he was only 16 months old and completely 'untried' but he certainly proved his worth with a lovely crop of calves born earlier this year. Let's hope the calves born next year will be as good. Jofrey Hans has gone back to the breeder we bought him off and will continue to be hired out as a stock bull.

Always Busy!
It will soon be time for the sheep to be brought to us for the winter. In order to keep the grass in the field 'mowed' we have another farmer's sheep here for several months. They are usually 'in-lamb' ewes that come here prior to giving birth, although sometimes we have early lambs born here which we love to see!
New Life!
Headon Hoedown! - Sunday 24 May 2015
To celebrate the development of our storage at Headon, and as a thank you to the loyalty of our wonderful clients, Friend of Headon, we held a fun day - the Headon Hoedown! The theme was a country fair.
The morning of the Hoedown and the skies were grey however, a wonderful posse of volunteers helped 'set up' and by the afternoon the weather had improved considerably.

We had various races on the track, egg & spoon, three-legged and sack race. The dressing up races were hilarious! Also going on were Welly Wanging, Horseshoe throwing, a coconut shy, face painting and a colouring competition.

The afternoon flowed with the help of John Lawrence from Tarka Radio, whose outside broadcast unit played appropriate songs for the activities. We were also lucky to have a steel drum workshop which was laid in by the Celebrations Ceilidh band (who played for us in the evening).

Several people were able to try their hands at playing the steel drums and very quickly were able to perform a tune!

In the evening we adjourned to the Barn for the evening's entertainment - a ceilidh with a caller! Everyone joined in the cowboy/cowgirl competition and there were prizes for the best dressed adults and juniors.

The table with the bring and share supper was groaning with wonderful food ! The ceilidh was great fun and everyone was encouraged to have a go by Christine from the Celebrations Ceilidh bank who made the steps very easy.

Donations were generously given and we were able to give £160 to Devon Air Ambulance Trust (See certificate) and £160 to Tarka Radio at North Devon District Hospital.



Competitive


Stylish


Carnival


Yippee!


Gratitude
NEWS DIARY - SPRING 2015
We have just finished calving our 22 cows and maiden heifers (first time calvers) and we are pleased to say we have 22 live calves. We have 11 bull calves and 11 heifer calves, it is strange how mother nature has a way of evening things out!

It hasn't been entirely uneventful, we have had one cow with a prolapse after calving (had to have the vet at 2am)!! Another maiden heifer required a caesarean section, mother and calf doing fine! It has been a proper maternity unit here! We have released into the fields some of our cattle, but will keep the young calves and their mums in a bit longer until the nights warm up a bit. Some of the calves are only 2 weeks old.

It is great fun to watch the cattle go out into the fields for the first time after being housed for the winter. They run, kick up their heels, usually have a fight and chase about. It doesn't take long for them to settle down.

We have had a lovely dry spell sinceEaster and the grass is slowly growing, helped on by the artificial fertiliser which has been sown to help the grass grow and replenish the nutrients in the soil. Some of the grass is grown for our stock to graze and the remainder is produced to make silage out of it to feed the stock next winter.

We are pleased to report we have heard the cuckoo already this year, a week earlier than last year. Also the swallows have arrived, again a week earlier than last year. I have no idea of the significance of the timings; perhaps everything will happen a little earlier on the farm throughout the year.

Each year when I am able to report having heard the cuckoo, I like to include the verse that Richards Gran, who sadly is no longer with us, used to recite as follows:

The cuckoo is a pretty bird
Its sings as it flies
It brings us good tidings
And tells us no lies.
It sucks little birds eggs
To make its voice clear
And when it sings 'cuckoo'
The summer is near.




Aaaah!



Breakfast time Mum!



Spring Hedgerow



Cuckoo - getting rare?

The hedgerows are beautiful at the moment with wild primroses and daffodils and Devon violets. We look forward to a lovely summer like last year.


NEWS DIARY - JANUARY 2015
Happy New Year to you all!
Today, as I write, it is a glorious, sunny, crisp January day. It has inspired me to take my camera out on a farm walk. Firstly I went to see the sheep we have here each year. They come to us to eat our pastures off (and fertilise as they go)! They are all mummies to be and as they get closer to lambing they will be taken back to their home farm to have their lambs.
They are all mummies to be and as they get closer to lambing they will be taken back to their home farm to have their lambs.

Sometimes, however, nature has her own clock and we occasionally have a lamb or two born here which is lovely to see.

Next I went to visit our own cattle, those who read the Diary regularly will know we have a herd of suckler limousin cattle. They are all housed in our cattle shed now, protected from the elements.

Just prior to Christmas we had the cows PD'ed (Pregnancy Diagnosed) and were delighted that we will be expecting 22 calves to be born from February to April of this year. This will certainly boost our numbers, although we mustn't count our chickens (or calves) just yet.

We will keep our fingers crossed it all goes as it should! Our new bull, Hans, who arrived at Headon last year has proved his worth!

Joey loves to visit the cattle in the morning - he forgets all his aches and pains and is like a young dog again, barking and launching himself at the cows and playing with the calves.

We think Joey sees the cattle as a lot of playmates - but I'm not sure they know what to make of him!

We will keep you posted and let you know how the calving goes!



Our Sheep!

Get me in the picture!

Are'nt I a beautiful boy?

Our new bull!

JULY 2014 UPDATE ON THE NEW STORAGE
Our shed is being constructed as I write. The frame has been erected and the panels, roofing and cladding will soon be going onto the shed. We have been fortunate with the weather which helps greatly. This is the widest shed our shed manufacturers have put up and this brings new challenges.
Will a Boeing 747 fit?
Once the shed is up there are several more stages to complete such as the concreting of the floor, apron area etc, electrical and security work. We are still on course for an end of September completion, if all goes to plan!

Farm Diary Summer 2014
The cows are all out in the fields now with their calves who are growing fast. We have a new bull on the farm called Hans. He is 18 months old and arrived with us late Spring. Sadly our previous bull, Holwill Barton Fantastic (Mr Fantastic), had to go as his daughters were coming into the herd for the first time this year. So it was necessary to get a new bloodline.

Haymaking early!
The arrival of Hans made us realise how much Mr Fantastic had grown whilst with us. The new bull Hans came from the same farm as Mr Fantastic and has already spent time with our cows (his ladies)! We have to wait now until we can have the vet here to PD (pregnancy diagnose) the cows to see if they are in calf. We keep our fingers crossed! Our first cut of silage was taken in June and we round bale the grass and have it wrapped to feed our stock in the winter. We will soon be ready to do our second cut of silage in the next couple of weeks. It is imperative we make enough round bales to feed our growing herd of Limousin suckler cows throughout the winter.

MAY UPDATE ON NEW UNDERCOVER AND OUTSIDE STORAGE
The ground work for our new undercover and outside storage area has been completed now. We were extremely lucky with the weather and the 3,700 tonnes of stone required to make the base were delivered when it was dry so it went down beautifully. We had 5 lorries delivering for 10 days!!!

This is what 3,700 tonnes of stone looks like!
Our groundwork contractors G M Contractors have done a first class job. We now await the shed which is a massive building and will take a long time to make and then be delivered here. It is then a huge 'meccano' style build. We are hoping the project will be completed in August, but we are in the hands of many people.

Farm Diary Spring 2014
We have been fortunate to have a mild winter and haven't really had any cold weather to endure. However, like many parts of the country the winter has been very wet but we are glad we are up on a hill and had no risk of flooding like the poor people in Somerset and around the country. The Spring jobs have commenced, we have applied our artificial fertiliser to the grass to make it grow for the summer grazing and production of silage.

The first calf born at Headon 2014
The cattle get a different smell in the air at this time of the year and are keen to go out to the fields. We have to delay this until it is dry enough as a herd of cows can quickly trample new grass and poach it up. We are also keen for it to be warmer for them, particularly as we have baby calves that are less than 2 months old! We started calving in April and have an even split of heifer and bull calves presently with two more cows left to calve. We really like heifer calves as we are trying to grow the numbers in our herd. The most important thing is the calves and their mothers are live.
We have had one scary incident this year. One cow, after calving, had a prolapse and pushed out her womb and part intestines. This was because the urge to push had not subsided. This all happened at 1am in the morning and, of course, we had to call the vet. She said it was the worse prolapse she had attended. Happily mother and baby (bull calf), are still alive after the ordeal but we are keeping a very good eye on them both. The joys of farming!!!


Farm Diary Autumn 2013
After a glorious summer this year the weather finally changed and it became too wet and cold for our stock to be in the fields. So, we have brought them into their winter quarters where they are warm and dry. This does add to the work load though as they need cleaning out, strawing up and daily feeding. They eat round bale silage which was produced in the summer when it was nice and dry. We have to amend the feeding of the supplementary cow cake depending on the quality of the silage produced and as this is an expensive source of feed we have to monitor it regularly. It is important the cows, who are hopefully in calf (more of that later), get the nutrition they need for their developing calf.

Lining up for their photo call?
We are also improving the condition of the steers we have. They are due to go to market next May so their feed rations are important. We are yet to have our cows and maiden heifers (first time calvers), pregnancy scanned, this likely to happen in December. We hope Mr Fantastic (our bull) will have 'done his stuff' and they are all in calf. It is always quite a tense vet visit on that occasion as it important each cow has one calf a year. As much as we would like, we cannot feed a cow for a year with no return.

We will keep you posted on the news of calves in 2014!

The visiting sheep are with us for their winter break! They come from a farming friend to eat our pastures before they return to their home farm to have their lambs. Sometimes we are lucky and an early lamb is born in the Spring which is wonderful to see.
Farm Diary Summer 2013

We are enjoying a three week period with absolutely no rain! All the cattle are grazing happily in the fields and we have finished our first cut of silage, for winter feed, in early June. All the round bales were wrapped and stacked within a couple of days. If the round bales are left out in the fields the birds peck through the black wrap and they begin to rot. Therefore it is important to bring the bales in and make a stack, thus reducing the surface area the birds can get to.

We are nearly ready to undertake out second cut of silage. Another week or two and it will be fit to cut and bale. The weather plays such a crucial part in the farming calendar.


Wrapping round bales

Touring Site News

We have been delighted with the feed back we have received following the drainage and resurfacing work undertaken earlier in the year. The new stone is much improved and doesn't 'walk' into the caravans - altogether much better. The four new hardstanding/grass pitches (pitch nos 7 to 10) along with their new dedicated hook ups have proved very popular, which is pleasing. The toilet/shower block has been re-roofed and we have a new lumination on our entry sign. We really apreciate all ideas and comments - if there is anything you think would be an improvement/advantage please let us know.



Farm Diary late Spring 2013

Our calving for the year has nearly finished, we are waiting for the final cow to calve and then, hopefully we will have 12 new baby calves.

We have had mixed fortunes with our calving this year; two of our calves have needed intervention with bottle/tube feeding as they were quite weak, but I am pleased to say they are doing fine now. Sadly we lot one calf. The mother had a twisted uterus which prevented the calf being born. The Vet attended and sorted the cow out so she is fine and we rushed to Market that day to buy a new calf for her to mother. She is taking to it slowly..

The good news is that on 18th April the swallows arrived! Also, on 7th May we heard the cuckoo for the first time. Both of these are natural indicators that winter is behind us and the summer is on its way. It is several years since we last did this, but, Richard's Gran, who sadly is no longer with us, used to recite a verse each spring about the cuckoo as follows:

The cuckoo is a pretty bird
Its sings as it flies
It brings us good tidings
And tells us no lies.

It sucks little birds eggs
To make its voice clear
And when it sings 'cuckoo'
The summer is near.


Our cattle will soon be leaving their winter quarters and going out into the fields. That is quite a sight to see, the cows running round the fields, kicking up their heels. The maternal spirit completely leaves them for a while when they see fields and grass! The grass this year has been slow to grow as it was held back by the cold weather, but it is now going ahead.

Our lawns and the touring site are testament to that! The lawnmowers are in full action now! Here's to a good summer!

Farm Diary Early Spring 2013

This winter at Headon we have escaped the tiresome snow that has hit much of the country which has been a bonus on the farm. In fact up until a few days ago we have had a dry spell of about 2 weeks. It has been occasionally windy, but some days there has been a real glimpse that Spring is just around the corner which is encouraging. The sheep that were here for prior to lambing have returned to their home farm although we did have a couple of early lambs born here which was wonderful to see.

Speaking of early, we have had our first calf of the year. It was a bull calf, born to a heifer but she calved herself and took us by surprise.
We had to hastily get a calving pen ready for her (not what we were wanting to do late at night) as this involved moving mum and baby in the dark. Still, the calf is up and running around but the heifer seems a bit indifferent. Must wonder what this little thing is running around after her all the time! (As it's her first calf she doesn't have any experience). This calf is fine but in the back of our minds is the worry of the Schmallenberg Virus which has been reported in the area. There is nothing we can do now but keep our fingers crossed.

The first calf born at Headon 2013
- a lovely, cheeky little bull calf

We are hoping this relatively dry weather will continue so we can apply our artificial fertilizer on the fields to help the grass to grow for the cows when they leave their winter sheds and also for round bale silage we produce. The land in this area is wetter than many parts of the country which narrows the opportunity of getting out in the fields with tractors and machinery as we don't want to make a mess. We use a contractor to apply our fertilizer and he has large 'flotation' tyres on his tractor which make less of an impact.

We are just about to have our annual TB test on our cattle. This is also another worrying time. Again, we are surrounded by outbreaks of TB so we are hoping we will have a clear test as otherwise we will be shut down and unable to trade. We have always been clear in the past but we know that is no guarantee. We will keep you posted.

Farm Diary Autumn/Winter 2012

As I write this Newsletter, all of our stock has come into their winter housing already. Following the wettest summer for 100 years, the ground is particularly wet and the cattle were starting to look very miserable out in the fields. Bringing them in relatively early will mean a long winter and there will be a great demand for winter feed.

Fortunately, we have a more than adequate supply of round bale silage which is mainly what they eat. However, it does add to the workload as they need to be regularly cleaned out, strawed up and we have to ensure they have ad-lib silage.

We have started our annual job of hedge-trimming. This serves two purposes, it makes the farm look tidy and it helps the hedge stay dense and therefore act as a good stock proofer. There is nothing worse than chasing cattle who have escaped through a poor hedge into your neighbour's field. (They always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence too)!

Regular readers of the Newsletter will pick up the theme of the seasonal work, and it is easy to feel I am repeating myself each year. However, there are some tasks, events that happen at similar times each year - but most always they are weather dependent!


Mr Fantastic!

We next await the arrival of the sheep that come to us to eat our grass in the winter. They belong to another farmer who brings them here prior to lambing to give them a good feed. We manage to grow plenty of grass (due to the high levels of precipitation)!

The good news this year regarding our cattle is that Mr Fantastic (our bull) - that is part of his pedigree name although Richard named him William (like every bull we have had on our farm), has done his job and our cows are in calf and the calving pattern is much more condensed which is better for us. Calving is due to start next April - that is always an exciting and anxious time - we always want a healthy calf and mum. We will keep you posted!

Farm Diary - Late Spring 2012

Following a wonderfully warm March, April brought April showers and many of the animals that were put out to grass from their winter housing in March, came back in in April!!

We are always late putting our stock out to grass as we like to have finished calving before the stock goes out. So our cattle are still housed.

We have started calving with three of our cows having produced three heifer calves. We always say a live calf and mother is what we want, but if we could choose we like to have heifer calves as they add to the herd as we are building up our numbers.

We fortunately got through our annual TB test which was a huge relief. There are quite a lot of TB restricted herds in our area. Should cattle test positive for TB then the infected animal(s) are destroyed and no stock can leave the farm. So, for many farmers who want to sell cattle not only do they lose income because they cannot be sold, the additional stock all need feeding, increasing the costs.

We are glad to say the swallows have arrived! It is something we look forward to, knowing the summer is just around the corner. We still haven't heard the cuckoo yet which is another sign which heralds spring. The hedgerows are a profusion of growth with campion and violets and wild strawberries (although the birds love these)!

Bring on summer!

Do - Ray - Me - SOLAR !!!

We are doing our bit at Headon Farm to help the environment! Our electrical needs for our Cassoa Gold Storage facility are now being met with SOLAR power. We have recently had fitted 16 solar panels which are producing solar generated electricity. We are fortunate that in Devon we have higher than average levels of sunlight (although I know some may question this)! The electricity produced services the farm and storage so you can be reassured your storage is now Green!!

FARM DIARY Winter 2011/2012

We are experiencing a much milder winter this year than last years wintery conditions which makes working on the farm easier. It has been very wet and windy, but this doesn't matter for our cattle who have been in their livestock barns since well before Christmas. The ground in this area is much too wet to leave cattle out very late in the autumn so the daily routine of cleaning out and feeding up started early October.

Cows

We have a new young bull on the farm; part of his pedigree name is Fantastic so he is called Mr Fantastic! The time came to see if he really was fantastic just prior to Christmas when we had our cows pregnancy scanned. Last year, in 2011, the calving rate and pattern was disastrous after we rented in two bulls that didn't do the job! As Mr Fantastic was a young bull who hadn't been proved to work we were crossing our fingers that our cows would be in calf. Well, I am happy to report that despite his slight immaturity he has got the majority of our cows in calf and the calving pattern is over a much shorter period which is good.

Again this year we have the sheep visiting us to clean up our pastures. As in previous years, a farming friend of ours brings his in lamb sheep to us, prior to lambing to eat the grass in our fields. Sheep do pastures a lot of good as they eat the grass much lower than a cow can which encourages new growth and a stronger grass plant. Sometimes the sheep lamb early and we have lambs in our field which is lovely to see.

FARM DIARY Summer 2011

We have been very fortunate with the weather this summer, it has allowed us to do our silage making in the dry. Silage is the preserved grass that our cattle eat in the winter when they are in the housing sheds. It is important to make dry, good quality silage as this improves the feed quality for our cows. We round bale and wrap our silage as we find this easiest to manage when feeding the cattle. You can see the bale wrapper in the picture working in one of our fields.

Haymaking

All our cows have calved successfully and the calves are growing at a rate of knots. Unfortunately, last year only half of our cows were in calf which is not good. We had hired in two bulls but neither of them did their job properly! SO - this year we have bought our own bull. He is a pedigree Limousin and part of his pedigree name is Fantastic - so we have called him Mr Fantastic - let's hope he is and does a better job than last year! We want all our cows in calf this time!

As we approach the end of the summer we are thinking of other jobs like hedge trimming and dung spreading. It is important to regularly trim the hedges as this ensures they stay dense and help keep the stock in the fields. In the autumn we apply the dung collected in the year back on the fields as a fertiliser. This job has to be done when the fields are not wet - it is a real circle. The dung makes the grass grow, cows eat the grass, produce dung which is then applied back to the pastures!

FARM DIARY Spring 2011

We have had a wonderfully dry and warm spell of weather this Spring - nearly 3 weeks with hardly any rain. This has helped us get forward with our Spring jobs on the farm.

Firstly, the ewes that were with us from another farm throughout the winter have returned to their home farm to lamb - not without a few lambs being born early whilst they were with us! We have been able to apply our artificial fertilizer to the fields to help nourish the grass and make it grow. Richard and James have been busy rolling down the fields and they all look very smart with their stripy rolling pattern.

Late April/May we are anticipating the first of our cows to calve this year. The scanning results have not been as good as previous years and we have a more spread out calving pattern. This makes things a little more tricky as we like all our cows to have calved and bonded with their calves before we put them out to grass. But nature has had her own thoughts this year and we will probably be calving until late June!

We are awaiting the country start of Spring - hearing the cuckoo for the first time - nothing yet but we are listening hard. Linda also thinks she has seen a couple of swallows - but 'one swallow doesn't make a summer'!! (Probably mis-quoted)!!

FARM DIARY Winter 2010/2011

Following all the snowy conditions over the Christmas period which were pretty to look at and difficult to work on the farm in, we now have the usual wet and relatively mild weather associated with this time of the year. (Don't know which is worse)!

Since the last Newsletter we have scanned our cows and heifers to determine which ones are in calf and how far along in their pregnancy they are. Unfortunately, this year we have a mixed bag of results. Only half of the cows are in calf which is not good news, and instead of them being due to calf within a month start to finish, this year they are spread over a 10 week period which is not so good. In previous years we like to calf our cows whilst they are still housed in the sheds so we can closely monitor what is going on. The protracted calving period this year means we will have to let the later calving cows out to grass and try and monitor in a 5 acre field which is not so easy. Generally, when a cow wants to calve she 'takes herself away' somewhere quiet and quite difficult to get near to. We will just have to be extra vigilant in the summer! We tried a new bull this year which was obviously not successful - a rethink for next year is required!!

The sheep that come to our farm to clean off the pastures have arrived. They come to us from another farm and belong to another farmer. He has insufficient grass on his own farm to they come to us for 'sheep keep'. They will return to their home farm before they lamb which is a shame as we love to see the baby lambs which sometimes happens if one lambs early.

Farm News Autumn 2010

We are enjoying a dry period at Headon at the moment and this allows us to get up to date with our farm work. We have started hedge trimming our road hedges. Not only does this make the farm look 'tidy' but the process thickens the density of the hedges which helps keep the stock in the fields! We have also managed to complete our dung spreading which means the pit is now empty and the dung (a valuable commodity with artificial fertiliser prices as high as they are)! is doing its job fertilising the land! It is a circle - cows eat grass that is fertilised - they produce dung - which, when they are winter housed, is cleaned out into the pit - then the pit is emptied and the dung spread on the grass!!

Our cows and calves are all doing well. The calves are growing nicely and we hope that the cows are back in calf since the visit of the Limousin bulls we hired in for the summer. As soon as we can, we will be scanning them to check whether or not they are in calf. (No we don't give the mums a picture to take away)!! The good weather allows the stock to stay out in the fields longer which is much better and healthier all round. However, as soon as the weather changes we will be bringing them into their winter sheds - then they need a lot of attention!

This year there seems to be a bumper crop of blackberries and sloes so please feel free to pick them when you visit!

Farm News Spring/Early Summer 2010

All our cows have calved successfully - mothers and calves doing well. We had 3 bull calves and 4 heifer calves. We hope for heifer calves as we are trying to increase our herd numbers, but as long as they are born live and healthy that is the main consideration.

Our stock will soon be all out of their winter quarters and in the fields. We have already turned out our yearlings and bulling heifers. It is really funny to watch them galloping as fast as they can around the fields, but the soon settle down. The grass is growing well now after being a bit late during the Spring. We will be silaging within the next few weeks. We make round bale silage which we feed to the stock next winter. We are already planning for the next winter such is the cycle of farming!

Farm News Spring 2010

Spring is approximately 2-3 weeks late for us on the Farm this year (as it is in most gardens). The sheep we had with us during the winter have returned to their home farm to commence lambing. On our land we have applied artificial fertilizer to feed the ground and make the grass grow for the summer ahead but the cold, wet weather has slowed the growing down.

The cattle we housed in our redundant farm buildings for the winter have also returned to their home farm and we are waiting for our own cattle to start calving. For three of the cows we have it is their second calving but for the remaining four it is the first time they have had a calf. (They are called maiden-heifers - the other three are cows). We are keeping a good eye on them and our fingers crossed it all goes as smoothly as last year. Once all the calves have been born and when the weather warms up we will think about putting our stock out on grass.

Joey News

As many of our regular visitors will know, Joey our very friendly border collie, has had four operations on both his back legs due to cruciate ligament problems. These operations have left him a bit stiff and arthritic. Despite this Joey loves to play and run with our visiting dogs (if they don't mind)!

However, we do have to try and make sure he doesn't overdo himself as this leaves him walking on three legs and in pain. The flipside of this though is that he needs to exercise sensibly to try and keep his weight down! So if Joey pleads for titbits please don't feed him - he doesn't need it!! Many thanks.

That was Xmas!

Summer was Here!

Getting together for a fun evening in August. The truth is that none of these fine fellows can surf on water! The balloon was last seen crossing Dartmoor!

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