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October | Fat Sheep and rain.

More rain in October, will it ever end? I think I had a missed call from a chap calling himself Noah, mentioning a boat.

October is typically a month when we continue planting the seeds that will grow into next year’s crop. However very little of that has happened because of the rain. If the soil is wet then it is very difficult to drive on with a tractor without damaging it.

It also sticks to the machinery behind the tractor that plants the seeds (the seed drill) and bungs up the working parts. Not helpful. So all the kit has stayed in the shed. We will continue trying in November, but opportunities become fewer.

Last year we started shearing the ewes twice a year so they go into the winter with less wool on their backs. It makes sense from a welfare point of view even if it means more work for not much reward. If they have lots of wool then they can become weighed down if it's wet and muddy, and then have difficulty standing up.

This happens in October and Rich, our shearer, came back to do the honours. Compared to many farmers we allow our ewes to carry a lot of “condition on their backs”. In other words, they’re well fed! This isn’t always good news for the shearer though, as Rich understands too well with each ewe weighing over 70kg.

The ewes will put energy into growing a layer of fat immediately after shearing, which also bodes them well through winter. And they will have a decent covering of wool again in a month’s time, before the cold nights set in. It is only because our sheep are Romneys, and grow wool much faster than modern breeds, that we shear twice a year.

The turkeys are very happy in the orchard, with little to report in October. They continue to be given new access every fortnight to a fresh part of the orchard. This keeps their grazing pressure spread out over the grass rather than letting them puddle up one area, which is what they would do if left to their own devises.


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