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2006 November

WELLIES and WHEELBARROWS

Having just spent a good hour chasing a would be Casanova out of my ewes, it occurred to me that a significant amount of my time is spent chasing run away live stock.

Earlier in the year I woke to discover my cows had decided they required more food and so had gone to graze one of the hayfields. This in itself wasn’t too much of a problem as I only had to turn them from there and shut the gate, however when I walked to the gateway the gate was nowhere to be seen. It was around about then that I suffered my first sense of humour failure for the day. Whilst I was ranting and raving and cursing the criminal mastermind who had struggled in the dead of night across the fields with my gate on his back I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye. It was as I turned to look I suffered my second sense of humour failure of the day. Enid, (a cow known for her belligerence) was wondering across the field wearing my gate around her neck. I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to remove a gate from a cow’s neck but I can assure you it’s not as easy as it sounds. Enid just wouldn’t co-operate and seemed to become quite fond of our new found bling. Having tried for the best part of the morning to ease the gate over her head, I suffered my third sense of humour failure of the day. I think Enid must have realised I had reached the end of my tether as I tugged at the gate, she twisted her neck and the gate came off. It just goes to prove, brute strength and ignorance does sometimes work.

With the cows safely locked out the field soon recovered from it’s uninvited overnight guests and it wasn’t long before we were mowing it.

For most of the harvest my backside was safely welded to the seat of the tractor (a fact which was pointed out to me on several occasions). While I was either mowing, tedding or baling I was constantly worrying about how I was going to carry the bales. The lads who have always helped me in the past have grown up, and the lure of birds and booze seems to be a preferable option to sweating in a dusty hayfield for a few quid, a bite to eat and occasional verbal abuse.

As it turned out I need not have worried. Fortunately for me the golden oldies stepped into the breach and saved the day. They were a gang of men for whom the days of birds (if not booze) were well and truly behind them. It turned out to be an expensive few days for me, as they all seemed capable of downing their own body weight in lager. I’m still taking the empties to the bottle bank now and the bar bill from the Grouse is going to take some serious explaining to the accountant! It might have cost a fortune at the time, but they were worth every penny. Thanks very much Gents. Same time again next year?

Shearing this year proved to be the same as every other year, a combination of sunburn, backache, cut fingers, bad temper, bad language and a general feeling of total disillusionment with life. As you can imagine, when the last sheep was sheared and the wool sheets were stored in the shed ready for collection life looked rosy again. Approximately a week later however Carrog suffered a cloud burst, and whilst I was busy brushing water out of the house, unbeknown to me a drain on the yard had blocked and the shed holding my wool had been turned into an indoor swimming pool. When the rain eased off and the threat to the house was over, I went down the yard and discovered the disaster. Luckily it was still thundering and my less than rational reaction to my sodden wool was drowned out by mother nature.

The exceptionally dry summer we’ve experienced this year has been a somewhat double edged sword. It has made for a good if low yield in harvest, and has allowed me earlier in the year to finish lambs with relative ease. However as the dry weather really started to bite and the Llan began to resemble the Serengeti, the lack of rain became a major issue.

Poor re-growth after the harvest has meant a lack of available clean grazing for weaned fattening lambs. Consequentially there are more lambs left on the farm at this time than in previous years. As the days shorten and it gets colder these lambs will be harder to finish and are going to require more nutrients than grass alone can provide, so it looks like the feed bill is going to be larger than usual this year.

Plans to plough and sew a field with rape in order to fatten lambs had to be put on the back burner as the dry conditions would have made for poor crop establishment. Although crop establishment was one factor in the jobs postponement the main reason was simply that the field was so hard and dry we just couldn’t get the plough in the ground!

Fencing was another job affected by the dry weather. I spent a week after the harvest doing a stretch, and the ground again was so hard and dry it took a super human effort to knock the stakes in. I was almost relived when the handle on the sledge hammer broke and I had to take a break.

Watching the forecast on Sunday I was please to discover a wet week was promised and so with a bit of luck the ground will soften to make my fencing a bit easier. Unfortunately, once it starts to rain it tends not to stop, so I should imagine that my next article will be a rant about the weather being to damn wet.

Gareth Llan.
© Copyright Gareth Bryan 2006


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