Who's Your Daddy?

Valley Cows Lower Dairy FarmOur crossbred herd ranges from the stately Queenie to the gormless but lovely No. 100.  Each have their own merits, from producing smashing calves, size and build, to a good nature, or occasionally they're just a cow to which we're very attached.  Whatever they may claim, every decent farm has one or two of these. We do not keep a bull on the farm (Thistle, a substantially built cow, is often mistaken for one from afar), but instead, browse the Genus Beef Directory to choose a sire for our calves.  When choosing a bull the most important factors for us are high calving ease, strong growth rates and calf quality.  We do this by looking at the Beef Sire Index which compares the individual bull to the breed average.  Smaller calves that grow fast are ideal in our system, although recently we've produced some monsters!

Currently, we use two bulls: the mighty Hereford, Solpoll 1 Ferrari, and the lively Aberdeen Angus, Nightingale Ploughman.  Ploughman has reached the 'legendary' status of 'Diamond Sire' with over 100,000 calves in his beef sires proof.  He's a busy bull.

I favour giant, dopey Herefords; Dad favours Angus' - you have to watch him when he's by the AI flask or else we'd have 100% Angus calves.  To celebrate our latest batch, and to see if you think Dad got his way, it's Game Time!  Put your observation skills to the test in our "simple" matching challenge:


Answers below.  And for those who need a helping hand: the mothers include two heifers, a giant, a "slow to regain her figure" cow, and a brown one who likes to kick.  No need to thank me.  A pat on the back if you scored 5-out-of 5 - or a kick in the case of Crispin (E).



Hereford: A (wingnut ears - dead giveaway!), B, E.  
Angus: C, D


It wouldn't be right to get through the year of 'C', in the Stour Valley, without a Constable.....seen here on the left, or possibly the right, with his sister, Constance

Unfortunately, it has become clear that the twins spent a very long nine months together, and now avoid each other at all costs.  Sharing an udder is just about bearable, but whilst I was hoping for adorable curled up together photos, instead, we have anti-social siblings.Constable, seen here in a melodramatic, artistic funk.  And Constance, proving she is not your typical heifer, but something of a hard nut.This picture makes me want to name them 'Bianca and Ricky', but sadly we are in the year of 'C',  and the naming baton was set pretty high with previous twins called 'Mikhail and Raisa'.  A definite step up from our first, Daisy and Maisy, but Jo is still upset the Gorbachevs did not reply to the birth announcement sent to the Kremlin.

Fortunately, the twins have an ever-increasing pool of alternative playmates.  No 100's large bull calf can be seen here relaxing in the sunshine behind the lovely Clara.

This calf was one and a half weeks late and No. 100 is yet to regain her former barrel-slim figure.  Who knew she could get any wider?  It may be necessary to use a panorama setting for her next photo.

If No. 100's calf is not to the taste of our fussy twins, an Angus cross arrived yesterday to a very grumpy cow who does not want to share, let alone allow photos of her calf.  She was a nightmare for her first calf, good with the next, and is now verging on difficult; which begs the question, why are we breeding from her?  The twins won't be playing with this one for a while!  Photos soon when the hormones have died down a little.

You may be thinking, "..that sounds like an awful lot of calves!", and you would be right.  However, Dad is intent on proving his AI credentials, and we have another two due this week, and more on the way.

Helen and I believe this is Dad's subconscious telling him block calving is the way forward...listen to your inner voice Dad...and pray not too many double up!

Happy Herefords

   The calm before the storm on the farm at the moment.  Mum and Dad are busy fixing, winter-proofing, feeding, cleaning, littering and keeping the animals in the luxury to which they have become accustomed.

We await the calving of Caramel (why is there never a full moon when you need one), so watch out for a sleep-weary Farmer Humph if you're driving up Water Lane in the dark.  And we're on tenterhooks as the wait for the sugar beet harvester goes on.  Rumour has it, the beast may head our way soon...and then you'll never have met a yokel (me) so happy to be hand-scraping sugar beet mud off a it will be for the last time.

Over in the shop, it's time for Shop Local Saturday on December 7th!  Part of a campaign to encourage folks to support local traders, look out for signs across the nation, and show your support for independents of all shapes and sizes.

Forget the pre-Christmas supermarket crush, love where you live and Shop Local.#ShopLocalSaturday

Back to basics

Look!  A three furrow plough.Dad has worked like a demon to complete the ploughing.  With only the Poor Field to go - poor by name, poor by nature, he went back to basics to get through some wet, heavy land without wrecking the tractor.  Apparently, it is better adjusted than the four furrow.  Bonus!

Unfortunately, with the ploughing completed, work stopped to rescue the JCB which was a little stuck in the barn.Time to crack out the shovels and dig for victory, but with our muscles struggling and the tractor unable to pull it out, we needed the big The Mighty Nuffield swung into action.Which makes you wonder why we use any modern machinery!

After my earlier destructive episode - bringing down the power cables to the farm with the JCB loader, it's safe to say we are being uber-careful as these things tend to come in threes.Perhaps we should offer our first bull calf of 2013 to the Gods, and name it after JCB's founding father, 'Mr Bamford'?

Quite the Bulldozer!

Triple 'B'

Every mother appreciates an audience when giving birth....but learning the facts of life can be a little much for the weak of heart.In the past week, the youngsters have learnt a lot as three calves joined the herd.  First to arrive, Bathsheba:

Followed by a Mother's Day surprise with unusual ears:It being the year of 'B', we couldn't name her 'Foxy' or 'Photoshop Gone Wrong'.  Fortunately, Blossom  was the name picked using our random number generator (...Humph picking a number between 1 and 13.  Took several attempts and explanation that 14 was not a valid choice).  Congratulations to Lesley Parkins and Douglas Fryer for a very apt name!

And finally, a first-time calf for a giant heifer:

We welcome Betsy to the world!  A good, strong name for a sizeable calf, suggested by Sue Fuller.  Betsy, born in a snowstorm, has decided that she will only sit in patches of snow.

More calves to worry Farmer Humph at the end of March!