Winter is now fast approaching. Christmas is six weeks or so away. The clocks have been put back and the nights are drawing in. We have had our first frosts even in mild North Devon. On the farm it is time for us to prepare for winter.
We are assessing our winter feed. Farm Manager, Rob, is buying in straw to bed down our animals in the cattle sheds. We do not grow cereals like wheat or barley so we have to buy in bedding each year. And this year, because harvests generally have been rain-affected, the price of good quality straw is high.
The last of the hedge trimming is being completed. We do not start hedge trimming until late autumn so as not to disturb nesting birds or fledglings. And we only cut each of our field hedges every two years so that there is plenty of bushy growth for the birds to nest in safely.
Our calves are weaned in autumn so that their mothers can build up their strength and body condition for next year’s calving. Initially the calves (and their mothers!) call loudly in complaint, but, after a couple of days, the calves form a little herd of their own as you can see in the photograph. For the next few weeks the calves will be out on a new organic grass and clover ley at Stone Farm before being brought into one of our sheds for the winter where they will be bedded down on good clean straw and be fed on hay and whole crop silage.
Life on the farm changes with the turn of the seasons. And, as winter approaches, we are already thinking of next spring and our plans for the future…