Dominic Naylor: Another year older as the arable harvest gets into full-swing

Harvest is in full swing here at Bishop Burton, with the rape, winter barley and some wheat under our belts.

I say harvest but as we are a predominantly livestock farm, harvest is all-year-round with weekly pig and lamb sales and daily milk collection.

I must admit to a wry smile when I see a 20-something arable farmer bedecked with baseball cap and ‘Oakley’ shades steaming down the road driving a Lexion, with more flashing lights than motorway roadworks, screaming ‘Get out of my way. We’re busy harvesting!’ I hadn’t seen him for nine months, I thought he’d emigrated.

Similar to most farms, I expect, there are significant yield variations between heavy and lighter land areas of the farm. Early drilled rape using the Sumo

Versadrill broke all records, whereas some barley on our lighter land was disappointing.

The first decent rain in four months arrived three days ago, which has given us an opportunity to get on with the stock jobs.

We dipped the ewes yesterday, which I hope will see them through to the autumn. The draft ewes did well at Malton averaging £72/head and I’ve since bought some Texel x and Mule shearlings at £112/head which is pleasing. If they depreciate at £8/hd/year then I’m happy.

I need to draw out some more lambs but with all three dogs lame we’ll have to wait. Sweep speared his foot with a nail, and Moss and Lad scuffed their pads raw in the dipping pens. So my wife Rachael is working her veterinary magic on them. Moss is coming on a treat, and can now easily gather and pen 250 ewes.

We also managed to do third cut lucerne, which yielded more than the second cut due to an application of bagged potash.

Thoughts have already turned to next year’s harvest. We hired some muck spreaders and emptied the sheds onto next year’s rape ground, which Sumo will hopefully drill in due course. I’ve drilled a grazing ley and split the field with additional chicory on one half. My long-term plan is to use grass breaks more in the arable rotation, and stock fence the whole of the farm in time.

When my alarm went at 4.20am this morning, I could not work out why I felt so old. Was it dipping the other day? No, it’s August 20, my birthday, 38 today. This is definitely the year I get my hill farm!

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