Dry weather strategies – Noldy Rust

Welcome to 2020. The beginning of a new year and all the promises, plans and New Year resolutions that we are all bound to keep and break, some of us more one way than the other. I find the Christmas season is always so enjoyable, with so much happening throughout December, culminating in a very enjoyable family day on Dec 25th which, in itself, leads on to a period of more relaxed and unorganised types of days as we head out through the New Year period, getting confused with what day it is, and planning and having some time away, whilst clinging to each day and willing it to never end before life returns to routine again. Our Christmas day was again special, as they all are, less about gifts etc as we improve with age, but more about fun with the grandkids and sharing highlights and lowlights from the year gone by. We do share some gifts; they often range from something really handy, to ones that are of a dubious nature, and thought of solely to take the mickey out of the recipient. On the one hand, the little staircase for the chihuahua that assists her to get up onto the bed is great, but did I really need lollipops with a hideous photo of me on them, or new socks that were adorned with the same photo? Those daughters of ours are so quick to snap a photo at any opportunity they can when the poor recipient finds themselves in a less than desirable pose! Heaven forbid that you ever dose off while they’re visiting. You’ll find your photo on Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook, and all sorts of other social media sites!

Sam managed to get a break over Christmas, which was fantastic and well earned. I took the reins for the period and had full control of the farm and managing the daily operations, just like in the old days. Bev was as supportive as ever, farewelling me as I crawled out of bed in the morning with the typical “hate to be you” comment. She just doesn’t know what she’s missing I reckon. Relief  milking in December is probably the best time to do it, as you get up as day is breaking and it’s still relatively cool, while in the afternoons it’s usually not too hot, with the flies still out of sight, amassing their armies for the onslaught in January. Plus, there is minimal feeding out to do, no cows to draft for AI any longer, and cows coming in with nice full udders, which makes it all seem so worthwhile, especially when the payout is good.

The mid December rain enabled us to apply some nitrogen and extend the rotation meaning, as mentioned earlier, production was consistent and above average for us for this time of year. That rain, however, was pretty much all that we have had in the last month, so things are starting to look very different now. Regrowth has slowed considerably, and the amount of supplement we are feeding daily is slowly increasing. Our husk bales did the trick, as we fed lesser amounts earlier on, but now we’re into the maize from the pit again. It was well worth pulling the maize face down and rolling it prior to covering it back in November (as mentioned in a previous blog). Only a little wastage on the edges and certainly nothing like we used to get when we had a vertical face. Maize plus a PKE/DDG mix is the daily ration and keeping production at a favourable level….so far! We are following our usual summer strategy of feeding the cows a lesser amount of pasture during the day and standing them off in the shade paddock after midday, giving them the bigger allocation of pasture when it’s cooler in the evenings.

I have forgone my morning walk today to enable me to get these few words written. My Fitbit will be on strike soon if I don’t get out there and start getting those steps up. However, we have planned to get out on our bikes and explore some river trail rides today so that will give it a good workout…and me!

It’s close to 7 am now so Sam must be close to getting the last row in. I can hear poor old Mr Speckle and Blackie indicating that they need their daily slug of milk. I think Sam is in the process of weaning the poor dears. They’re only about 4 months old now and still think they need milk to support their grass intake. Their size indicates that this may not be the case. I think we need to find a far away paddock for them for a few days as this regular bellowing sounds worse than a teenager who’s had their phone taken off them! Well, almost. I think I’ll go over and do the clean-up so Sam can go move calves.

We’ll talk again soon, hopefully sharing how the rain came in the nick of time, and how the weaning process went. Until then, enjoy life on the land and whether it’s too hot or too dry, it will change.

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