‘Come on clouds, help the plants, we're doing Duggee's rain dance.' If you have had under fives in your house over the past few years, you may recognise this part of the rain dance song from the CBeebies show Hey Duggee. This has been a song that the children and I have been singing with increasing regularity and necessity.
As I write this (June 30) it is, quite literally, the first rain that is worth writing about falling at Trengilly since May 9. This had led to the fields resembling concrete and the grazing grass moving closer to yellow on a colour chart than green.
Fertiliser has only been spread on the fields when a good chance of some moisture has been forecast, but now the biggest need for grass growth is rain.
On July 1 we will be trying something new, and as my dad calls it, 'radical'. We will be only milking the cows in the morning for a couple of months. This is something that we are experimenting with this year to see how it goes.
There are a few reasons that we are trying this. We are going to be drying off nearly 60 cows over the next couple of months with nothing having calved since the end of March or due to calve until the last week of August.
During previous years we have milked twice a day right through, but felt this year was a good time to try something new. It was mentioned right at the beginning when we decided to calve most of the cows during autumn and early winter.
Last year, especially during the heatwave, I noticed how unenthusiastic the cows were to leave the field for milking in the afternoon. I feel we were all just going through the motions because that is what we have always done.
This will give us all a bit of a break and I will have a lot more flexibility as I do nearly all the milking myself. Having some extra time during the school holidays to spend with the children will also be something to look forward to.
Something that we are not lucky enough to get a break from is bTB testing. We completed our six-month test during the last week of June with the cows and youngstock at Trengilly tested first, then all the animals on the off farms on the following day.
Testing away from Trengilly can be tricky, as we have four groups on a farm, ranging from right next to the holding pen to half a mile away. All the fields are joined by a wooded lane which can be tempting to the more adventurous animals.
But we will be back to 60-day tests as we had one cow and one Jersey yearling as reactors. The break was short lived, and the testing cycle continues again.