Enjoying the festive season – Noldy Rust

December 21st, it’s the longest day of the year as far as my limited knowledge on this subject goes. And I must say, I’m really pleased that it is because it means that I finally get a chance to sit at my computer and type a few bloggy words. Kinda makes sense doesn’t it? These last few weeks have been reasonably busy, as I’m sure they have for everyone, so it takes the longest day to come around to give us the chance to catch up on where we should be. We need as many hours as we can get to get by these days!!

It’s now 8.30 pm and the sun is still casting a glow on us from the west. I have had a chance this evening to go and watch Hayze play touch, not before time might I add, as it’s his last game of the season. Phew, that was close. And once I finish writing this I will go and wash the house down and do my Christmas shopping. That WAS my plan……however, a few days ago Bev could see that the writing was on the wall, so to speak, as was all the dust, bird poo, slime and mould…consequently she gave up waiting for me to clean the house down in preparation for the influx of Christmas visitors and invited Chemwash to come and do the job, which they quite efficiently did I must say. What is it with wives? I said I’d do it, but oh no, she has to go and call in the experts!

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And I bet if I go and ask her now, she’s probably done the Christmas shopping too!! Wait there, be back in a minute…. (1 minute later)… yep as I suspected, all the shopping has also been done, except my gift to her, although she just yelled out that she will take care of that as well, as long as I give her my credit card so she can get to the jeweler at some stage tomorrow! Well, that won’t be happening I can assure you! Seeing as I have left the purchase of her gift to the last minute (through no fault of mine of course) I may execute my emergency gift buying plan and login to the Farmsource dollars rewards website at the end of this ramble to order some fancy cheese, or vouchers, or the like. Now that’s what I call efficiency in shopping, doing it from the comfort of your computer screen and not having to hand over any cash!!

NR weather Dec17 resize.jpgConditions on the farm are a stark contrast to where we were a mere couple of months ago. I’m sure it’s the same for most of you? I remember my mum baking when I was a kid. She would mix up all this stuff in a bowl and have a big runny mess, then pour it into a big flat dish, chuck it in the oven, then half an hour later we had a dark brown crisp dish of chocolate slice or something similar. Well, I’m no chef as you may gather, but I do see a similarity with baking food and farming. We had a wet, sloppy mess of a farm for around 6 months, then the sun came out and baked everything to a dry brown crisp! In a matter of a few weeks! It was certainly pleasant for a while not having to wear wet weather gear or worry about pugging paddocks, but this prolonged dry is getting a bit extreme don’t you think? The last decent rain we had was on November 5th, 70 odd ml falling in a day. Now the tap has turned off and we’ve had very little lately. Our situation is not too dire yet as we got a good cut of silage off the maize block and have contracted PKE for around $215/t landed. We still have maize silage on hand that will see us right for a couple of months yet.

Speaking of maize, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fantastic looking crops around. The last few weeks have been so well suited for maize growth. Warm soils, moisture early on and then heat. And it’s not just me that’s noticing all the great crops. People from all walks of life are commenting on the rapid growth and dark green leaves waving in the breeze. Mind you, even maize needs a drink from time-to-time, so some rainfall in the near future would be very welcome for the maize, as well as the pastures and other crops.

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Our mating went well, we did five weeks AI this year, then another four with bulls, and now we are inseminating any late returns with short gestation AI bulls again. We didn’t want to risk putting up cows that may not be on heat so opted to put scratchies on all the cows again. Seems a bit over the top, but I suspect we may have put a few up last year that weren’t on heat and this may have resulted in these cows aborting. Our empty rate last year was higher than normal so we wanted to eliminate this risk. Any thoughts on this? The challenge now is when to stop mating all together?? We have had 5 on in the last 3 days, so worth mating them. I guess when I’m giving Sam some much needed time off over Christmas it may be a good time to give up, although a short gestation mated cow on Christmas day will still calve in late September. Depends how tight we want our calving to be I guess.

Looking forward, now that the longest day is almost over we can say winter is coming! Sam has worked hard to get the cows out to a 30-day round and I’m pleased to say it has certainly helped push grass ahead. What will January and February bring? I remember in 1994, 2004 and 2010 (and I’m sure there were others), we had very dry conditions pre-Christmas, but the rains came early in the new year resulting in very good late summer/autumn growth. Will this season be the same? Who knows? All I know is that just as the extreme wet passed eventually, this period of dry too will pass.

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We need to stay positive and make sure we get some rest and recreation off the farm. Get away from it all and recharge the batteries. It may be wise for us to emulate the humble maize crop. Just as a maize plant reaches down far into the soil with its roots in order to get all the energy and sustenance it needs, we should also reach out to get all the energy and sustenance we need. We mustn’t be afraid to reach out to others if we need help or advice. Family, friends, faith or food; whatever it is that gives us the energy and encouragement that we need to stay positive and enjoy the abundance, the pleasures and also cope with the challenges.

Have a great festive season and enjoy some time away. Enjoy your family and all the thrills of being a dairy farmer, whether it’s  wet or dry. And remember, if you still need some Christmas gifts, Farmsource dollars offer some simple solutions. In saying that, I wonder if I can use my Farmsource dollars to get jewellery shop vouchers….now there’s a thought!! Gotta go!! Now, what’s that website??? www.fonterra.co.nz?? or is it fencepost.com???

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