Q. The last time we heard about your Sussex cows on the site it was August and they were over at Reelhall Farm because pasture had run out on The Bumps. I hear it was a challenging summer and autumn?
A. It has been a challenging year, we had a very bad harvest due to the hot weather in the early summer and as a result we only harvested 70 big round bales compared to the normal 140 like last year. What made this even worse was that due to the hot summer and lack of rain, grass didn’t grow and we had to feed the cows half of the winter’s food to keep them going over the summer period. Doug Chandler of Reel Hall Farm very kindly let us use more of his land around his farm for grazing, but this was still not enough.
Q. The cold and snow over December must have also been difficult, we recorded temperatures of minus 10c on the weather station at Woodhill Cottage, how did you cope in these conditions?
A. The weather has certainly been against us. The cows coped well with the snow but it meant extra feeding. As we were short of our summer harvest I fed them pea halm, which is the byproduct of making peas and is high in protein. 25 tonnes were bought in which should last us 2 months. Freeing froxen troughs and water pipes with a gas torch is never the best job first thing in the morning (always being careful never to melt the plastic pipes).
Q. I believe that you expanded the herd in the autumn? please tell us more.
A. Yes I bought a small herd of 13 pedigree animals from the late Doris Morritt of Peaslake. There were four very nice heifer cows with good pedigrees which I really wanted to introduce into the herd.
Q. By introducing these animals into the herd how do you keep your pedigree status?
A. All the new aminals were pedigree Sussex. I had to have them tested for IBR, BVD, Lepto and Johns diseases as I have a clean herd and did not want to introduce any dieseases. Fortunately they were all clear and could be introduced to my existing herd. Our bull Gorgeous George could then sort out the new young heifers.
Q. How are Lottie, Lulu, Layla and the other spring calves doing?
A. The girls are all doing well. They have been weaned from the mothers which was a very noisy few days for the neighbours. I now have to keep them away from Gorgeous George as they are too young to breed. Doug Chandler has very kindly let me use one of his small barns to winter them away from the main herd.
Q. The question we all want to know is did Gorgeous George do the business over the summer and if so how many calves are you expecting and when?
A. Fingers crossed he has done the busines. I have just taken him away from all the girls and now he is with the young boys/steers which are being fed extra food to bring them on. George has a new young pretender. I kept one of the young boys intact, he is poled and from stock of the Mayfield herd so has a very good pedigree. He could be George’s new successor as he will be a new blood line. If he makes the grade I will be looking for a name, so please send us your suggestions.
Q. I hear that you are now also expanding into sheep farming, tell us more?
A. Yes it is a joint venture with Reel Hall Manor. They are pedigree Southdowns. (We will tell you more in a separate post very soon).
Q. How can visitors to the site get hold of your meat boxes?
A.We will be able to offer meat boxes around April time. Please phone 07730 954451 if you are intersted and I can advise you of costs. I Would like to say a big thank you to all those who have supported us in 2010.