We thought winter 2017-18 was bad enough with all the rain but as we have all come to realise, a long spell of dry weather is not great either.
The impact on farming has been in the news recently and while we have not escaped completely, compared to some farms, we have been ok.
I think no longer having cattle has helped. Cows drink a tremendous amount of water and, if there is no grass, supplementary feed has to be supplied.
The same happens with sheep but with them being much smaller than cows, the amount of feed needed is much less.
This summer I have walked around the farm a lot with the children. Some summers it has been so wet that I have struggled to do this because places have still been waterlogged. Not this year. Most of our smaller ponds have almost dried up and, while it doesn’t affect the farm directly, it does affect the wildlife that our farm attracts.
I suppose we are all worried about winter too. The price of straw and hay is currently through the roof so every farmer hopes they have enough so see them through to spring 2019.
We have weaned the lambs from the ewes now. The grass that should be lush would usually put weight on the lambs and recondition the ewes.
As it stands, the lambs are not as big as they usually are so supplementary feed (at an additional cost) is required and I imagine come September/October when we are a few weeks away from tupping (mating season) we will have to do the same with the ewes to ensure they are in good shape for getting pregnant again.
Supplementary feed at this time of year is a blow to all livestock farmers because it will ultimately eat into any profit and, I don’t care what anyone tells you, nothing works best for grazing animals like grass.
It is said quite a lot that farming is all dependent on the weather but I think this year it is more the case than ever before.
The problem is, it is not just a case of praying for rain. We need rain but we also need a second cut of grass so a good hot spell after the rain is needed too.
You can’t win really.