It has been over a month since my last blog. February is now behind us and the evenings are becoming that little bit lighter. The routines carry on, feeding the five Highland calves in the shed, filling the rings with haylage for the rest of the fold out in the fields, checking the Portland sheep, especially the ewes, with lambing getting closer.
In the middle of the month we collected the second young ram we hired out to Kingston Maurwood College, where they keep a flock of Portlands. He was very popular with all the students and well taken care of. Once home he joined in with my other rams with very little head banging.
We had our television debut on the 23rd! Last summer’s filming here and at the Melplash Show appeared on an episode of ‘The Farmers Country Showdown’ series on BBC One. Our Portlands looked lovely, but I didn’t like seeing myself! We have has lots of positive feedback and I was even recognised by the man taking my credit card when I got fuel for the Land Rover.
The dreaded TB testing, scheduled at the end of February, is always in the back of my mind through the month. We gather the cattle into the two fields adjacent to our handling area. Then each group is brought in, run down the race, into the crush. Mary the vet trims the hair, takes a skin measurement and then they get two jabs. As my fold of highlands is in a premier health scheme, they also get blood taken. Not easy! Tail lifted, needle stuck up into the vein running along the inside of the tail, all the time cow trying to pull away. The bloods are checked for certain diseases and I continue to have a clean record.
My poor little white calf, an unexpected surprise born in September, has been doing so well with all the big ones. He was too young to wean and spend winter in the shed with the other five calves. But the poor thing was knocked in the race and emerged in the cattle crush with a bloody head. His little horn was badly bumped. The vet attended to him and.applied antibiotics. His mum then licked and cleaned him up and he is fine. But the cattle never like this process and I just wish the fanatic ‘badgerists’ would understand that badgers also suffer from TB as their population has exploded. Farmers do not want all badgers exterminated, just controlled. And it should also be noted that the dwindling hedgehog population is making a comeback in badger cull areas. Save the hedgehog and continue the cull!
Three days later the cattle are all checked for a reaction. A worrying time and it was blowing with heavy rain so the cattle were reluctant to cooperate but we got through the whole ordeal with no positive reaction and all clear.
A puppy arrived! Archie found a very good gun dog breeder and an eight week old Black Labrador has joined the family. He is gorgeous of course but I forgot how much work is involved in a new puppy…still haven’t quite sorted the potty training.
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.