How things can change within four weeks! When writing my last ‘Farmers Weekly’ article we were shutting off additional fields in order to cut excess grass. Luckily for us we cut all that we needed, although, we now have acres upon acres of what resembles a desert! With the farm being south facing and having shallow, free draining soil we are extremely dry. We have not seen any rain since my last article, although some neighbouring areas have seen showers at times we have remained dry.
The grass situation is pretty desperate now. We have weaned a week early in order to preserve all pasture for the lambs. All ewes have been turned up the hill and will forage on dry roughage. The lambs have been turned down the meadow where there is ample cover of old leys. This is usually reserved for the suckler herd, but they are now having to follow and clean up behind, something which I’m sure they are thrilled about!
Due to other commitments we have taken a more relaxed approach to grazing this season, and find ourselves assessing covers by eye rather than taking weekly measurements. Time constraints and staffing have been the main instigator in the decision. With margins being wafer thin and constantly being squeezed further it is no longer viable having a full time shepherd. We have to make due with certain days within the week that are full with essential husbandry work and recordings. All silaging and field work is given to a local contractor.
BBQ season remains, although we are seeing a decline in the average spend due to a change in customers buying habits, caused by the weather. A trend to buy smaller portions and an increase in chicken sales, with products such as marinated kebabs being popular. The summer can traditionally be a quieter period for independents, with customers routines changing due to the school holidays etc.
The quieter period in the shop will hopefully allow me to have a couple of days with the family at the Royal Welsh Show. It’s something of a tradition that we go every year and take in all that the show has to offer. It’s a great time to meet with friends, socialise, network and find out what is in store for Welsh agriculture community over the next 12 months.