Sunday evening, another Father’s Day as good as done and dusted. It’s been a wee while since my last blog, I guess it’s been kinda busy this spring! I always had the option up my sleeve of making some time to write this on Father’s Day, as this is the one day in the year that fathers get to be no 1 and do what they like. What better way to spend an hour or two on this poignant day than to put a few words on paper?? I must admit, it is later in the day, I can hear the moreporks and see the moon, which in itself is a good sign as it means it’s not raining. What a thrill that is!
I hope all you dads out there had a great day, as I did? I got to have lunch with one daughter, spent some time with my dad, had dinner and drinks with family, and also got some yummy treats from all the kids. Unsurprisingly, the eldest daughter, the one with the baking skills, made some yummy brownie, a real delight to the taste buds! The younger two had a big box wrapped up which made a sort of clinking sound when I picked it up. No, not wind chimes as they helpfully suggested, but an interesting selection of craft beer from the Epic range. They know my tastes and have a great way of getting to my heart, even though I can see through their cunning plan as they will no doubt take part in the consumption of it all!!
And, to top it all off, our de facto, part time, foster daughter Steph, who flats with daughter Hayley in our other house, has just turned up with a new-born orphan lamb, Frankie, saved from certain death on her parents’ sheep farm. “Happy Father’s Day Noldy, got any milk?” she asked. I happily obliged with some fresh colostrum from a newly calved cow. Glad to help. Trouble is, Frankie’s gonna need feeding every day and Steph is leaving her job at Vetora in a few weeks as she heads off to Ireland, and I suspect little Frankie won’t be going with her. Who’s going to care for and feed this little delight then??
It’s so good to be in September now. Days are longer, calving is as good as done, and daylight saving starts in three weeks. The rainfall for the past, dare I say it, year has been unbelievable. However, I’m not going to go on about that, as we all know how difficult this has made life on the farm. Limiting pasture damage is a real challenge. Thank goodness that, in general, growth rates have been above average and in our case feeding maize and PKE on the pad has helped to reduce time spent on the paddock and meant that cows have been well-fed even though pasture utilisation has been lower than ideal. I must say, some paddocks look terrible when the cows have been in and out several times, and it breaks your heart to see it, but on the whole, they have been recovering quite well, especially with some N applied. We are following the cows whenever possible with urea and plan to get some sulphur in the mix with our spring fert once we get to October.
Mating is looming once again and we have been looking at our options. I have been challenged in many ways by several “one off” comments from people, or articles I have read, that have made me consider how to get the best out of our mating programme. The sexed frozen semen trial from LIC, the demand for Wagyu calves, the high price paid for beef calves once again this year, and also a comment from our local DairyNZ CO about zero bobby calves, made me consider ways to get more dollars from calf sales. All these things, along with Hayley, our animal lover daughter who thinks all bobby calves should be allowed to live (no, she isn’t a member of the Greens as far as I know), has made me decide to try a few different (for us that is) things in our mating programme. Synchronising and mating our heifers to easy calving Kiwicross and Jersey bulls, ordering some Wagyu and Hereford semen for the lower BW cows, and using some sexed semen on the remainder of the herd, should minimise bobby calf numbers substantially and not only keep Hayley happy but increase our net calf income. Small bobby calves only fetch around $6-7, not much future in that is there? We have leased Hereford bulls again to tail off the cows as they always seem to sell really well. I guess we’ve seen all this demand for beef calves and Wagyus before, we’ll see how long the demand stays high. If too many do it, the price may crash, as with most things I guess.
Sam is getting excited as his wedding day looms in just over a month. Keeping him on task and focused for the next few weeks will be a challenge. I have brought the mating date forward this year as he gets married on the day that we normally start AI. It’s only fair that he gets to help put scratchies on and gets involved in the first few days of mating. Maybe we’ll even put the bulls out for the few days that he’s away on honeymoon…just to ensure that the bulls work of course and are fit for purpose. And if Sam dares to grizzle when he has cows calving earlier than usual next year, I’ll need to remind him about who chose the date!!
Father’s Day is well and truly ending now. Must be time to sign off. I might even get a whole night’s sleep without hearing rain on the roof. I hope that little Frankie had a good feed of colostrum earlier as I don’t want the sound of rain on the roof to be replaced by a bleating little lamb, wishing he was back home looking for his mum!! Cherish any moment of sunshine you may experience in the days ahead, and if it does rain, try to capture and store it…..we may all be paying tax on this abundant resource after Sept the 23rd!