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With only four more of Castlefarm’s autumn herd to calve and most of our calves sold I feel like I can take a bit of a breather from the farm. Our cows are now indoors full time. They eat silage and sleep on straw.
In the spring time, when farmers begin to sow vegetable seeds, they are thinking about the harvest ahead. Throughout the spring the plants are nurtured and, during the summer, the vegetable patch has to be safeguarded from weeds and pests. It’s hard work but we look forward to our produce.
Plenty to do at Castlefarm this month, with weeding an important job to keep under control - and then foraging in the hedgerows for pleasure
The strange weather held things up at Castlefarm this spring and the cows have only just been let out overnight
At last our cows are grazing outside full time. This means less time feeding silage and bedding the sheds with straw. The expense of dairy ration has also been cut out of their diet. Now it is AI season. For six weeks any cow that comes into heat will be artificially inseminated.
The spring is beginning to pick up pace at Castlefarm. At last the end of spring calving is in sight. Since I last wrote this column over 80 calves were born at Castlefarm. Some days we had up to 8 new arrivals.
The year’s new arrivals have begun at Castlefarm. We arrived back from our annual holidays on 2nd of February to nine calves that had been born early. Needless to say, Andrew who works with us full time on the farm was delighted to see us back. Although we started out the month milking 18 cows, each day brings at least one fresh calver that adds to the milking total.
We are nearly back to normality after the Christmas break at Castlefarm. In preparation for our spring herd of 70 cows to calve down, we have disinfected calf sheds and re-installed calving cameras in the calving boxes. From the end of January the monitor in our bedroom will allow us to check on expectant mothers through the night without leaving the warmth of our house.
Castlefarm gears up for Christmas – the Farm Shop is open every day from 19th – 24th December, and Jenny Young explains how they then manage the workload to keep time needed on the farm to a minimum over the holiday.
There are a lot of apple trees at Castlefarm and Jenny Young explains what they do with the excess fruit. At Castlefarm we have two orchards beside our house. The old orchard was planted by Peter’s grandparents nearly a century ago. The newer orchard was planted by Peter and I during the winter of 2007. We received a small REPS grant to plant this orchard of 26 trees. We sourced old Irish apple varieties from Seed Savers.