The Year Round: Snow and ice, but life goes on smoothly

DESPITE constant cover of ice and snow at Mill Farm, Christmas and Boxing Day passed without any major mishaps. This holding is 1,000 feet above sea level on the South Pennines and in common with other livestock owners we try to find some easier time once the feeding is done.

Milking of our 50 dairy cows was finished as usual following a constant watch on water supplies. "No water, no milk", is as true today as ever.

A dairy heifer went down with milk fever before she had calved. This is the first I have known so early but she appears to be responding to treatment.

Various lots of young stock were released twice a day for a drink. This was simpler than trying to keep water taps unfrozen.

Milk from here goes straight to a number of retailers, who supply householders. These retailers take a real pride in their job, and on the Friday before Christmas they took three days' milk supply to every customer.

They helped out those who couldn't reach supermarkets and whether they will continue once the cold weather goes only time will tell. Certainly these retail deliveries have been much appreciated.

To our relief there were no reactors to our latest TB test. Farmers dread the prospect of even a single reactor which upsets the whole running of the herd.

Cattle sales and movements are so restricted. My main worry is that our testing dates are to be reduced from one every four years to every other year. Is there some un-notified reason for this?

Lambing time starts in mid February. The 100 ewes have all been scanned showing a slightly lower lambing percentage than normal.

This does not worry me one bit. A high lambing percentage invariably means more losses.

We are still without any pigs, which are a good trade at the moment, but we will probably buy some more when the work at lambing time is done.

Very best New Year wishes to all readers of Country Week.

CW 1/1/11