The Year Round: Constant clamour means the birds are happy

At Low Fields Farm our only livestock are 12,000 laying poultry.

They are on a barn system, which means that they have plenty of room to move around and stretch their wings but there are no pop holes to allow them outside.

If they did go out, the ground would become so overstocked that diseases would multiply rapidly.

Our system allows them to lay an acceptable number of eggs at a price acceptable to the customers. The birds have food and water and the companionship of their own kind.

The constant clamour makes it evident that the birds are happy with life.

On our frozen roads, delivery vehicles arrived regularly despite the ice.

We kept spare tractors on hand in case of need but the feed lorries arrived with two drivers each and managed remarkably well.

Water supplies to the indoor poultry remained unfrozen, but outdoors, dykes froze solid and it was a very hard time for wildlife.

Our men took a Christmas break but the poultry men had to be brought in by our own transport every morning. I admire livestock farmers who kept their water supplies running.

Never before have I known sugar beet still in the ground after Christmas.

When it is sufficiently dry we shall lift the crop, but it will have to go straight into the factory.

This delay meant that an identical acreage of winter wheat remains to be sown.

Demand for potatoes remains steady over Christmas and New Year, and our own tractor and trailer delivered loads of 25 tonnes. We worked at this steadily.

Each winter a quiz is staged locally for Young Farmers' Club teams against former members.

I managed to get most of my answers right and we pulled off a victory over the youngsters.

There are nothing like the number of teams in the countryside compared with 40 years ago and, sadly, the same applies to many rural organisations.

CW 15/1/11