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Hello to you all again.  Things "down on the farm" have been a little quieter this month because of the nice dry weather that we all had at the end of September and beginning of October.  Farming is very dependant on the weather, we all hope for dry weather at times when we need to work the land, but also hope for rain at other times of the year, when crops and grass need water to make them grow and in some cases survive.  In the same way that we all need to drink water or we would become unwell, plants also need water to be healthy. 

As I promised last month, I will talk a bit about our animals, now that the crops side of the farm is Picture of cowsa bit quieter.  I'll start with our pigs as they are the biggest part of our livestock side of the farm.  We breed pigs, so we have 200 sows (adult female pigs) which are in a constant cycle giving birth to piglets approximately every five months, for 3 to 4 years.  A ‘litter' of pigs usually averages between 8 and 15 piglets being born, but can be up to 20 piglets in extreme cases.  In the cycle, we have 8 sows giving birth to piglets every week, so we usually have in the region of 100 piglets being born every week.  These piglets then suckle from their mothers for 25 days, before they are "weaned" (taken away from their mothers) where they will then start to eat a cereal based diet (like your breakfast cereals but in a slightly different from!).  These pigs then grow over a period of 18 to 22 weeks until they are big enough for the market they are intended for.  Our pigs are sold to George Bolam Butchers at Sedgefield, and he wants pork pigs from us, they are approximately 75kg.  Pigs for bacon are bigger pigs, so they get their pigs from a different farmer who will supply pigs that are approximately 95kg.  Picture of pig

The beef and sheep systems on the farm are not as complicated as we don't breed these animals, therefore we buy them in from markets and feed them a diet which makes them put on lots of muscle which is where the meat that we eat comes from.  Our sheep are bought in September/October so they have now arrived on the farm and we have about 700 now.  These will be fed through the winter, first of all on grass and then turnips which will help them produce the muscle we are looking for.  The sheep will then be sold for meat from February until April.  Sheep are currently going through a bad period as the price that butchers are willing to pay for them is very low, we are therefore hoping that this will improve by February.  The cattle are bought nearly all year round and are also sold on a weekly basis.  Usually we try to sell 12 every Thursday at Thirsk Market. 

The only thing we did with the crops in October was to spray them all to kill the weeds that were growing.  If weeds grow in the crops, especially at this time of year when the plants are small, they will compete with the crop for nutrients, food and water in the ground so we need to kill the weeds using pesticides (chemicals) to give the crop the best chance of living and doing well. 

That's it for this month, I look forward to telling you all about our activities in November!


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