A heifer calved prematurely two weeks ago. Only a few hours earlier, I had submitted my last Farmer Writes article stating it would be six weeks before calving starts.

I could be heading for a 3% six-week calving rate for the second time in three years.

Fortunately, I don’t lose too much sleep over the likes of those statistics but it would make me consider becoming a bit more superstitious to avoid similar happening in future.

The next test is due just when calving is properly getting under way

Hopefully the remainder refrain from calving for another few weeks and the stress of coming and going at the TB test on Monday won’t induce another few.

The next test is due just when calving is properly getting under way. Being in the midst of that busy period, having flighty cattle gone to grass and the best part of 100kg extra on each of the bulls make me dread that test more than this week’s one.

I hate to say it but the weather has nearly been too good for this time of year. Don’t get me wrong. It’s enjoyable to be out working in it but given nature’s inclination to balance things out, what will the payback be?

It’s still early in the year but we haven’t got a winter as such

Sherkin Island would be the nearest weather station to me and between November 2021 and January this year, the recorded rainfall was less than half what it was for the corresponding spell the year before.

It’s still early in the year but we haven’t got a winter as such. It’s something I’ll be keeping to the back of my mind as the farming year progresses. We’ve had a number of very cold beginnings to May over the last decade so anything is possible.

With weather conditions as good as they are, I took advantage and got slurry out last week on the home ground. It was pure luck that the home block was soil tested last year. I was accepted into the soil sampling scheme just before Christmas so I held off on doing my routine samples.

With no word of when it will happen, I went off and sampled the half of the farm that was due to be done this year. There’s less value getting the P and K index for fields when the slurry is spread so I figured it was best to keep the usual routine going.

At least I can see what difference the slurry will make if I do get it spread before samples are taken for the scheme.

I attended the first of our discussion group meetings of the year last week and fertiliser price was the hot topic. It was good to talk through and listen to the various plans in place on each of the farms and it highlighted one of the most valuable elements of discussion groups – hearing others are having similar issues on farm to yourself.

Problem-sharing and problem-solving tend to go hand in hand

Discussion groups were in their earlier stages back in 2012 when the rain rarely stopped and it was a comfort to hear that it wasn’t just your own farm that the incessant rain fell on.

The same groups were useful too in the drought and fodder crisis years as different plans and ideas were shared.

Problem-sharing and problem-solving tend to go hand in hand.

Invaluable chats like that were missed over the last two years as group activity was limited by pandemic restrictions. The social value of a discussion group is sometimes forgotten but it is invaluable, especially given the isolated nature that working a farm can create.