Charlie's January/February

Charlie's farm diary: January/February 2001

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Snow lies in the fieldsWell, here we are in a new year, and it looks as if things might be looking up we have got some frost and even quite a bit of snow, it is beginning to look like a proper old style winter. Every farm around here has finally got round to getting some muck on the land. There seems to be a tractor and muckspreader in every field and even some arable work is being done on the best dry days.

 The young people now a days have never seen any real snow drifts that we used to have around here. The council used to erect chestnut fencing about 30 foot from the roads so that when the wind blew the snow off the fields it would form drifts between the fence and the road so keeping most of the snow off the roads. Even so we could reckon on getting cut off when we had big snowfalls then a bloke who ran the local garage and was a local councillor would come round and set anyone on who could spare the time to dig the snow off the roads to get us out. Now it just does not happen and they ceased putting up snow fencing in the late 70s and we have never been cut off since. Although I can remember having some very hard frosts in the 80s when I kept pigs, and we had to keep thawing out the water pipes for their drinking bowls we would just get to the end of the shed and then have to start thawing them out at the beginning again, luckily I had a lad working for me then and he spent most of the days on the thawing.

Just one set of tracks through the snow in the lane

With the slight rise in the milk price and no danger of the country going over its milk quota. Dairy cows are starting to go up in price in the markets as the dairy farmers are competing for more cows to milk. Store cattle seem to be a bit dearer as well as beef farmers have got plenty of silage and food stocks in store, although not of the best quality because of the unfavorable harvesting conditions it is OK for beef cattle. This has had a knock on effect on the calf prices but only for the best beef type calves. The dairy bull calves are still being sent straight for slaughter as there is no demand for them.

Oh no!!! Just heard that Foot and Mouth Disease has been found in Essex, hope it doesn't start to spread as it did in 67 when we had it here. I had just took over this farm as my father had died (I had been in the building trade up till then even though I had been born on the farm) and I worked part time on the farm next door. When they discovered a cow with it on that farm one dinner time the ministry came out and by 7 o'clock that night all their cows and mine as well were slaughtered and buried by dinner time the next day.

Oh no !!!! It is beginning to spread, the markets have been closed and all cattle movement stopped, what started off as looking like farming could be getting better with a new year has suddenly took a turn for worse than anyone could have imagined, how much more can farmers take? They were making little enough before but now all trade must stop for who knows how long.

Charlie, February 2001

Next: March 2001