Mr August

Not Farmer Humph, but this handsome beast!Angus bullock Lower Dairy Farm

The bullocks have left the Marsh and are now roaming the Popple Field beside the house.

This year's new intake are already begging for apples; a new record for Mum's training regime.  First thing in the morning, it can be alarming when you've forgotten they were in the field and a giant bullock suddenly looms over the hedge.  Other fun occupations in the life of a bullock (and life on the farm is never dull!) include chasing chickens, staring out Humbug, and escorting walkers along the roadside - such gentlemen!

Obviously, staring in an unimpressed fashion at the activity around the house and farm shop is another favourite.  As we haul bales back from the village, there's lots to keep them (and us) occupied.  It was nearly Mercator time in our last blog post...but several cloud bursts later have bought a little time.  Humbug is just going to have to toughen up and walk through the barley, and Dad can be found polishing the Mercator before the Mighty Beast is called to action.

Baling by Pitchbury Wood

Sliding doors


Butter wouldn't melt...

  "Have you seen the puppy that's trying to kill the furry animals?".  You can take the dog out of the country...but not to a popular pet store.  The TV advert promises a treat for every animal, but after this and barking at your own reflection in the sliding doors (every time they closed), we were lucky not to leave with a pet ASBO.


It's been all go here with more calves, muck spreading, hen moving, bale moving (sterling work by Humph, cramming the last bales into the barn before it rained) and a tip-top weekend of dehorning and castrating in Dorset - I'll save you the details.  Never let it be said the glamorous Taylor girls (in matching Primark hoodies) don't know how to have a good time.  Incidentally, the chants of "here come the chavs" were not appreciated.

Back home in Essex, Humbug and I put the "rural" into "rural broadband" at the CLA's Rural Broadband Week roadshow in the village hall - think muddy wellies and eau de fox scat.  The CLA's "Can't Get Online" campaign is lobbying to ensure every rural business and household can access a broadband connection of at least 5Mbps.  Humbug, a very concerned citizen, contributed some very loud yawning - greatly appreciated by all at the meeting.

  The cows have decided enough is enough and they'd like to come inside thank you very much.  So it's time to start reconstructing that highly advanced system of gates in the barn, consider (only consider) replacing the vintage baler twine that holds them all together and find places around the farm to store the machinery that's been kept undercover over the summer.  You'd think it would be difficult to lose a gate.  But you would be wrong.

All thoughts now turn to sugarbeet madness.  This year, I get to see for the first time the MONSTER machinery in action in the tiny fields of Lower Dairy Farm.  A nightmare for the operators...but very exciting for me!

Previously on Lower Dairy Farm...

...harvest, piglets, puppies and poultry.

Yep, harvest is done (bar that unintentional "conservation area" at the top that needs baling). So here's a quick recap of what's been going on...

Between the rainy days, we completed our harvest and Dad's baling marathon means we've got enough fodder for the winter. This year saw Lower Dairy Farm's first Bale Census - a hi-tech compilation method involving a post-it note on the fridge.

Hundreds of bales = lots of bale hauling from around the village. It's my first year hauling bales on the road (thank you patient drivers, shame on you impatient idiots) and I enlisted the help of Lower Dairy Farm's newest member, Humbug the dog on his first tractor adventure. I like to haul bales in style, as you can see from the picture below.





It's safety first on the farm, and when tying bales on it really helps to use all your weight and I like to harness the power of the dog pulling on the end of the rope...provided Humbug the highly trained puppy gives the rope back... Tying on provides great amusement for those watching, particularly on a windy day when flinging the rope accurately over a loaded trailer is nigh on impossible. Apparently it's "really funny" to watch when the rope flies back over and hits you in the face before the dog runs off with it. I really have no future as a team roper, but for now, I'll blame the driving wind. Turn the trailer round? What a waste of fuel.

Anyhow, with all bales back at HQ and counted, it's time to get stuck into everyday chores. The cows are out on pasture, and we're about to head into our next block of calvings. This will coincide with (fingers crossed) duckling hatching - far less stressful than calving!

August saw the first pigs on the farm for over 50 years. Dad has a faint memory of Grandad keeping pigs in the same place we are today. Our two are Gloucester Old Spot x Tamworth, so should make for good pork and bacon.

What with the piglets, calves and puppy arriving within one month, we've had lots of visitors. I am now positive that the pigs have a better diet than I do as the people of Nayland and Little Horkesley bring them surplus veg from their gardens. It really does take a village, and you know you've reached a new low when you consider rescuing a cabbage from a pig pen.

This week has been particularly insane, finishing harvest, hauling, chicken windproofing (the excitement knows no bounds), sorting the house out etc, the puppy (I'm not reknowned for my enthusiasm and boy does he require a lot), selling a ton of books through Amazon, being pimped out at the farm gate (yep, I would make a good Bathsheba, stop encouraging the men over 60 Dad) and an unkept promise that I would actually get round to weighing the pigs - piglet catching requires fast acceleration, great hand-eye co-ordination and the ability to think fast...none of which I am blessed with! Oh and the PhD - yesterday was the first night I've had a chance to look at anything properly for a month. So of course, I am simultaneously searching for books on pig husbandry, setting up the blog and researching poultry drinkers online. It's quite a search history!