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December

December

Date

19/12/2007

Hello.  I write this blog from my nice warm office, looking outside at the freezing, foggy weather that has finally found its way to England.  People say that the weather is a farmers' favourite subject, and we are never happy with the weather, no matter what it is doing...............well, they probably are right, most of the time!!  Although I am pleased that it is frosty outside, as it has many benefits for us, it is nice to finally get inside the house and warm up a bit, I just know that I have to go back outside soon so I am trying to put that off a bit longer!

November has been quite a nice month for us as it has been not too busy, so we have had chance to catch up on a few maintenance jobs.  One problem with keeping pigs is they love to break things, so every so often we need to spend a few days welding up gates and barriers and fixing whatever the pigs have decided to break.  Pigs are extremely intelligent but also nosey animals.  If anyone walks into a pen with them, the will initially back away, but after a few seconds come up to you and start sniffing, then they will start pulling at your clothes and biting your wellies!!  It can get quite painful sometimes if they bite a bit hard, so if any work needs doing in a pen we either need to empty the pen first, or take a barrier in to stop the pigs from being able to get to us.  With pigs being so nosey and liking to play with things, it is a rule that we must keep something in the pens that they can play with, if we give them straw as bedding then they can play with the straw, but in pens that do not have straw we give them "toys", which usually consist of bits of logs, plastic tubes and plastic containers that they can push around the pen and chew on, we also hang chains that they can rattle.

Our major arable (crops) work in November was finally combining our maize.  Maize is a plant that grows to about 2.5m tall (or even higher), and is actually the plant that sweetcorn and "corn on the cob" comes from.  Our maize is grown for animal feed, and our climate up in North Yorkshire means we could never grow corn that would be good enough to be sold for humans to eat, but it is fine for animals.  Most farmers around us who grow maize use a machine called aCollecting the maize crop forage harvester to cut it.  This machine takes the whole plant and chops it up, but this type of feed is better for cows that are producing milk or for making young cattle grow.  Our cattle are on our farm for the meat to produce beef and steaks; this comes from muscle, so we are trying to get our cattle to put on as much muscle as possible.  The best part of the maize plant for this is just the "cob" or the "sweetcorn".  Therefore we use a combine harvester (see picture) like we did with our wheat and barley crops to separate the corn from the rest of the plant.  We then put this through a machine that squashes the corn flat so that the cattle can digest it properly.  The squashed corn is then put into a shed and covered with a plastic sheet to keep it fresh so we can feed it over the winter months.

I have also now finished spraying all of our crops for weeds and insects, and we have sold our old sprayer so I look forward to getting our new one next month and using it for the first time in spring.

Other than our usual pig and cattle jobs and sales, that is the majority of our activities in November, I will let you know about December's jobs in the New Year. 




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