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Hello to you all,

The new year has had a very busy start down on the farm. I mentioned in the December blog that I was busy with a local pantomime, well that went very well and thankfully it is now over and done with! I also did the sound for another village pantomime in February so my evenings have been very busy. On top of that my mum and dad went away on their holidays which meant that I had a lot more work to do as dad wasn't around to help, especially on weekends when I was wanting to try and get all the animals their food and straw so I could have a rest during the day. The staff on our farm consists of myself and my dad, then two full time employees. One of which is our full time "pig man", it is his responsibility to look after the day to day running of the pigs. This involves the feeding, cleaning out, helping to get the sows (mother pigs) pregnant, making sure pigs that are giving birth are ok and then looking after the baby pigs once they are born and generally looking after the pigs until they are 14 weeks old which is when they are transferred to a different farm of ours where I get the day to day looking after of them until they go to slaughter at approximately 19 - 22 weeks old. Our other full time employee is a tractor driver/general maintenance and odd job man! David drives the combine in the summer, and then ploughs our fields in the autumn and spring and also many other jobs, but he also helps us to bed our cattle with straw, helps us with the sheep and is really good with a welder so can fix lots of things if they are broken, but he can also make things like gates and pens so he has many uses. When dad is away on holiday it just means that David and I have to manage to fit dads jobs into our usual days worth of jobs so some days it can become very busy!

In January once again it has been a fairly quiet time where work on the land has been concerned. Little jobs like getting some slurry out of the pig houses has been possible when it has been dry enough to travel with tractors on the land without sinking! Our main jobs in January have been with the sheep and cattle. The cattle are all inside at this time of year, so some of them need some bedding everyday. This is at our farm at home where we have a "straw blower". This is a machine on the back of a tractor that takes a bale of straw and blows it into the cattle pens to get a nice even covering of straw over the whole pen. We also hire a shed off another farmer during the winter where we keep some more cattle. Here the cattle are in smaller pens so we roll a big round bale of straw into each pen twice a week by hand for their bedding. The sheep also need looking after more at this time of year. Although they are outside they are fed on stubble turnips which are grown like a crop in the ground. We only give them a small area to eat at a time otherwise they would waste some of the good turnips by standing on them rather than eating them. We control the area they can eat with the use of electric fences which need to be moved at least once a week to give the sheep more food when they need it. We have also been feeding the sheep with silage so they need at least once bale of silage a week also to make sure that they always have some to eat.

That's it for January, more interesting things start to happen again in February so I'll tell you about those next month.



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