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Weeds, Acorn and dairy...

Emma Heseltine - 28 April 2013

A weed is merely a plant growing somewhere it shouldn’t. Today it seems everything is starting to grow where it shouldn’t. First the ground Elder that is rampant in the orchard is creeping into the veg patch and fruit cages, where it is certainly not welcome. It has quite a knot of roots so I end up digging up all sorts of other things trying to eradicate it. There is a pile of daffodils and iris when I’m done and I carefully put them back in, random though they are. I also get stuck into a young sprouting of nettles that has appeared. I do not want that getting a hold in the fruit cages. It’s no fun to run into a head high patch that is hidden in a redcurrant bush when you are picking away at the lovely juicy berries. Later it’s your favourite and mine, docks. They are popping up again so it’s best to nail them as soon as they raise their heads. I expect there is a lot of dock digging in the near future.

We are getting Acorn looked at by the vet to see if she is in calf with the notion of getting her off the fairly heavily grazed Tarraby field. It’s a bit of a fight as she is fine about going into the pen but her calf, Kate is wild and won’t go. We end up chasing her about for ages while patient mum moo’s from the race. Eventually they are together again and the vet can examine her. Its bad news, she isn’t in calf, although there looks to be nothing wrong with her on the inside. She will just have to stay with Jeremiah a bit longer. We needn’t have chased that calf about for so long.

Longhorn cows at Hadrian's OrganicI’m at Brampton farmers’ market chatting to the stallholders. Eric at Slackhouse in Gilsland, says his lovely Ayrshire’s are driving him mad in the sheds when they should be out in the field by now, ‘can’t get anything done with the cattle under my feet all the time’. Seems like all the dairy people are having a tough time of it. This week I have heard one of John’s friends is going out of dairy and is selling his cows. It was a tricky summer and winter has been long, the grass is starting to grow now but it’s too late for some. The cost of buying in silage if you don’t have enough is extortionate and the cows can’t go out as there isn’t enough grass yet. Our hardy old Longhorns are doing alright on our hay and the little grass that is growing. However the dairy cows are the racehorses of the bovine world and need top notch fodder to produce the milk yields needed. Dairy farmers are killing themselves trying to produce enough milk and are getting little for it in return. And so another family farm disappears, how many more will we loose this year? I feel for them I do, I wouldn’t be a dairy girl.

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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