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Farming diaries: spring is here!

After the extensive dreary winter, spring is a welcomed event, the sunshine is becoming a more regular occurrence than the rain and the glorious daffodils have emerged. In farming, the two milestones that mark spring are baby lambs skipping in the field and cows being let out to grass after a long winter inside due to the ground being too wet- we do live in boggy Bushton after all!

It often comes as a surprise to some that cows are creatures of habit. Although they do not know the exact time, they will always be waiting at the gate when it is milking time. If the farmer is as much as 20 minutes late, they will let you know about it. One afternoon our milking parlour broke meaning the workmen came out to fix it and milking was delayed, the cows were milked at 4.30 pm instead of 3.15pm. This may not seem too much of a hold up, but the cows were stressfully mooing out of protest and once let into the milking parlour they charged in, rather than their usual relaxed waddle. Moral of the story cows are very persistent and will not let anything or anyone get in the way of their routine.

Lots of lovely lambs have now been born and are enjoying playing with fellow newborns. A question I get asked a lot is why do most sheep and lambs have spray paint on them? Once a sheep has its lambs, the mother and its offspring are spayed with the same number, meaning if they are separated the lambs can be put back with their mummy. This prevents any trauma or the lambs being away from their mum for too long, leading to undernourishment. Breeding season also brings about more colourful sheep; rams wear a harness (called a raddle) that has a colour marker on it, therefore when the ram mounts the sheep the farmer then knows which of the sheep have been served and should be in lamb. Each ram will have a different colour and the colours are changed often so the timing of lambing can be calculated. So, don’t panic if you see some very vibrant multicoloured sheep it is for their welfare and management purposes. Saying that in the lockdown farmers did get creative with spray paint to thank the NHS, rainbows on the side of sheep became a trend!

The idea of this column is to keep the community in the loop with farming in the village, especially as this is a very agriculturally centred area. Who knows you may even learn a thing or two! If you have any farming related questions, send them in and I would be more than happy to try and answer them.