The cold snap has provided an excellent opportunity to get on the land and spread a bit of compound (phosphate and potash) on the arable crops. The frost in the earth enables the tractor to travel along the tramlines and not compress the ground. John has usually had to finish by mid-morning as the frost starts to ease then. It has meant some very early starts to the day, earlier than usual, but John has welcomed a hot bacon butty delivered to the tractor cab when he comes back into the yard to top up with compound.
No tractor work this morning however. Off to market with the two cows who are not in calf. They had come bulling again and all the rumpus and charging around in the yards was putting some of the newly born calves at risk of being trampled under foot. Return to serenity. We are going to look at a new bull in the next week or so. Argument has raged between an Aberdeen Angus or Limousin bull ( like our last one), but the swingometer is moving back to a Limousin again. I keep telling John that Aberdeen Angus beef always fetches a premium in the shops, but advice from the market and butchers we know seems to favour Aberdeen Angus/Limousin crosses. Any decision taken now takes several years to come to fruition when you consider gestation and maturation time. No rushing then before we take the plunge on a breed.
Meanwhile the hens seem to have hatched a successful escape plan.
Many of them spurn the hen hut at night and face chilly nights in the bare branches of the fruit trees, following the example of the guinea fowl. Usually in the morning the hens flutter down into the hen run whilst the guinea fowl fly off into the adjoining field. Now the hens branch hop from tree to tree until they reach the perimeter of the hen run and then flop down into the field. They have watched and learned.
Who says hens are dim? As nests of eggs are appearing in unusual places rather than in the hen hut, maybe drastic measures will have to be taken. Or that’s what I tell John. I rather like seeing the hens strut their stuff round the yards and as they can’t get in the big grain shed, they are not going to contaminate any corn. And they do go back to the trees in the hen run at night. Although how soon it is before the lure of the foldyard for their night time slumber entices them I do not know.
“Set the alarm again for four tomorrow” I have just been told. “It’s forecast a frost overnight.” I know the real reason though. Another day’s shooting beckons and that is why John wants an even earlier start. He is out to play with the boys again. Only another week or so until the end of the season. Then maybe the jobs I want doing might get done.