John Gordon: Exceptional prices but worries about the future cost of fertiliser
It rained on St Swithins Day! Since then we have had a significant amount of rain, some of it torrential, which washed mud and silt down through our yard leaving deposits of around 45cm (18in) to be cleared by the loadall.
Many farmers in higher, later areas are struggling to get silage made and time is marching on. We baled our peas on July 16, just before the heavens opened on the 17th.
Winter barley harvest in the area has been a start-stop affair with yields struggling to make three tonnes. The rise in cereal prices is great in the short-term but, sure as anything, fertiliser prices will now rocket just as in 2007.
I hope we are not left high and dry next year if cereal prices fall back. Surely now the price of straw will ease back with arable farmers grossing £250/ha (£100/acre) more than they imagined two months ago.
Lambs continue to be an exceptional trade for this time of year. Our last load averaged £78. Store lambs sell well too and, with this in mind, we are selling 100 store lambs each week as grass is in short supply.
These lambs, which averaged 33kg, will need hard feed to finish them before Christmas. They made £65 each so I hope the buyer can get £85+ to make it worth his while.
Autumn calving cows are all weaned. They had their tags checked and were treated with fly repellent, iodine along their back and tar on their udders. Weaned calves were kept inside for three days to settle down before being turned out.
We had a week’s holiday in Brittany at the end of July. I found it quite depressing that the wheat harvest was almost finished, however there was a downside in that the grass was all burned and local farmers were feeding cattle with hay.
We saw people catching oysters and other shellfish in a busy harbour town.
There was a stream of tractors driving through the packed tourist streets – no lights, no trailer brakes, insecure loads and workers riding pillion. Health and Safety enforcement is certainly very different in France.