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Barley, mulberry and shaking grass...

Emma Heseltine - 07 July 2013

View of haymaking from tractor cabI’ve come to the end of last year’s barley for the pigs. I’ve got a good few bags to crush that will keep them going for a while but I’m going to have to go back to some of my other sources. I can get biodynamic bran from the watermill in Little Salkeld, which is a by-product of the white flour making process. The last pigs really enjoyed this so I might add it to their ration and stretch the barley a bit further.

I’ve decided I’m not buying any more of the pellet food that comes in big bags. It’s organic and has lots of useful things in it but it also has imported organic Soya that I just can’t be happy about. It’s travelled too far and costs too much. I think that the pigs might take a bit longer to get fat on veg/barley/whatever they can dig up, but I'll be happier for it. Hopefully so will they.

On Thursday we are going to pick up our new heifer from near Wigton from Nicky Luckett. She is called Mullberry and is about a year old. We have to go get her in from one of the top fields, which is very steep (lovely view over the Solway and into Scotland) and full of 17 young cattle and one cow and calf to keep them in check. The theory is; get them to follow with a bucket of cake (pellet food mix) and they will go into the pen.

The reality is somewhat different and we spend an exhausting half hour chasing them up and down the field (did I mention steep?). Eventually we get the ones we want in, Mullbery along with two which Nicky wants to take to a sale and a heifer called Lettie who is going to meet the bull, Harry. We load them up and head to Crosby with our new girl. She is going to hang out with Hadley, who isn’t due to calve for about a month and Jesse who is also joining the herd this year. I hope she settles in okay.

The hay at Wallacefield is still lying; it’s been a bit wet. The forecast for the next week looks good though so on Friday we cut three more fields. In the mean time the barn needs a tidy. There is actually a fair amount of hay in the barn from last year and in fact there is some from two years ago hiding at the back. This needs using up so we do some stock rotation. All the old bales need to come out and go in a new pile at the front and we can leave a nice space for the new bales that will be taking their place in the next week (hopefully). Some are quite heavy but we drag them out, they need using up!

Big Dipper gets baled on Sunday afternoon whilst the whole UK is watching tennis. I, mean while, am sat in the John Deere shaking out grass here there and everywhere. An awful lot of grass got cut this weekend… busy week coming up. If this weather could just hold out for two weeks we could make hay and even have some time to enjoy it too. Here’s hoping.

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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