Smooth spring sailing – John van der Goes

Once again time has roared around and it’s time to update what’s been happening here.

Well, what has happened? On the whole things have gone really well. Calving seemed to start and just power away, with us reaching the halfway mark three or four days ahead of last year. Talking to people it seems that most of them had the same thing happen. The downside for us was that when we sent our first load of milk we didn’t have as many first calvers in as usual and that, coupled with early calving high cell count cows, meant demerit points for the first two pickups. There is always something that catches you out each year.

JVG spring cows

We have had a good run with replacements this year. In fact, I think our heifer to bull ratio was outside the normal range. Not only did the cows have lots of heifers, but the first-calvers did too. All in all, we have had a really good run with not many animal health issues. Only a couple of milk fevers, mastitis cases and calvings.

It seemed like that there was no time for anything but the essentials right from the start this year. Usually I manage to get some extra jobs done before things get going but not this year. In fact, it was a big surprise to look back at the end of the day and think I actually got something done.

Not long before we got busy I was talking to a regional council officer and asked about what we could do with the stream banks where the corners are being eroded away. He said he would contact the right person for me. They came to see me and now we have a lot of willow and poplar poles planted on the corners of our stream. The best thing is that I didn’t have to do any of it, and they are coming back to replace the ones that the cows snapped off. Also, I’ve got someone else from council coming to talk about planting more of the banks, and he said that they will probably help with the funding and supply of plants.

JVG poplar poles4

After three attempts we have managed to get our first paddock of fodder beet planted. This was the last paddock grazed, which we didn’t finish till the end of July, so it has just been sitting there waiting. Nice to think that something is growing in it now instead of just weeds. This year our contractor has a new planter with all sorts of fancy gizmos, including a sprayer, so no need for a separate pre-emergence spray.

JVG fodder beet cultivated paddock

JVG fodder beet planter

With feeding out just about finished, and grass getting going, it looks like I may be able to think about the odd fishing trip and breaking out the lycra and hopping on my bike.

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