Season round up – Graham Smith

A bit to report back on seeing it has been so long since my last blog.

The season ended on the 24th May with production slightly down on last year, less than 1%. The cows did 350 kg milksolids which I am happy with in this OAD world. Lance was always going to struggle to better last season due to the high empty rate (19%) last season. I bought in some cows to keep numbers up, but they were of low quality and held the herd back. Out of 15 only four remain in the herd, and this also meant it impacted on culls for this year with us not digging as deep as we would have liked into the lower producers. Still, we managed to remove poor uddered cows and those with high cell counts. On the plus side the empty rate was reduced to 9%.

Grass growth was good throughout the season with regular summer rain to boost it along. The days were warm otherwise and this ensured sunshine hours. This growth reflected in us getting 3 cuts of silage into a bulging pit, and then two cuts into bales. We could have got a sixth cut off the lucerne but decided to feed it off to the young stock. All the lucerne bales made were used to supplement the cows through the late part of the season and helped to extend the round early. We ran a 36-day round through early summer and extended this to 70 days in April and May. Late May they were on 106 days until dry off. There is still silage in the pit, and we have 50 bales to get us through winter. Due to the good season the cows are in ready to calve condition now.

The cows were shifted onto the lease block early June, and we hope to hold them there until calving. The plan is to draft them as they spring and return them to the home farm.

Our veterinary adviser was pleased we only need to treat 15% of the herd with dry cow and the rest only needed Teatseal. We did Teatseal the treated cows as well. The heifers were also Teatsealed.

I talked about the purchase of a neighbouring piece of land. It is now a full year since we agreed to buy, and I am still not the legal owner. It is small wonder that this country is going backwards when paperwork and who knows what other problems seem to appear and create costs and delay. There have been monthly bills to facilitate this land transfer, and everyone seems better off except me, the producer!!

Ophir post office. No post boxes. People go in and ask for their mail in the old way.

Finally, our purchase of the camper has already given us good adventures. We did a three-week trip to the South Island venturing down the West Coast and then back through Otago and Canterbury. In the middle of this trip, we did a 4 x 4 organised trip while we left the camper with friends. We also visited friends along the way and made some new ones. We have learned a lot from this trip and are already planning our next excursions.

Blue pinkgill mushroom, Hokitika Gorge

As you know I sell timber planks from milling my Paulownia. I also sell sapling Paulownia around the country. I have recently contracted ArborGen to propagate small, rooted trees for me to grow on. This enables a quicker response to orders and allows me to select from my best trees. One order was from the Far North, and I delivered these and negotiated to stay on the delivery farm in our camper and do a spot of fishing. I managed to avoid one frost, caught some fish and took the chance to make new friends and have a look around. Trees have been good to me and have allowed Tess and I to enjoy new vistas.

Planting out Paulownia delivery from ArborGen.

May you all have a successful season and enjoy your farming year, I intend to!

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