The shortest day is almost here, yip yip yip, we all know what joys are ahead of us after that date!! Summer’s on its way, Christmas is coming, although these are a bit further away compared to some closer joys to embrace such as the countdown to Rio and of course the all-important event in every dairy farmer’s life, spring calving!! Yes, it’s the calm before the storm again and once again the period when cows are dry is slipping by at an alarming rate.
June is such a busy month with Ag fieldays, seminars, SMASH conferences, and the like. I remember as a kid the period when the cows were dry seemed to go on forever; mind you, in those days I think milking into May was a rarity and calving didn’t generally start until August, so we did have so much longer not having to contend with daily chores that involved milking the cows etc. Nowadays, on our place as in many cases, we strive to have as many days in milk as possible as this is one of the key drivers of profitability, providing we watch our costs and our cow condition. Consequently, the dry period consists of a week or two of wind down, a whirlwind period of catching up on jobs that were put off till winter (when we will have more time!!) and then getting ready for the rush of calving when we start all over again.
Sam has been busy working on some of these aforementioned maintenance jobs, seeing as time, if not the wallet, does allow for this in the June period. However, the payout hasn’t moved in the right direction as we had hoped for, and things that we were going to do about a year or two ago “when we can afford it again” are still needing to be done, and there’s even less money available!! However, we can improvise and do the basics I guess, so it’s things like filling potholes with a shovel from a stockpile of rubble rather than getting loads spread with a truck, and others, such as utilising any old fencing equipment lying around to tidy up fences rather than just making a trip to the local merchant store to buy more new stuff!
Lepto and B12 jabs for all the animals is a non-negotiable, as are copper capsules for the youngstock. What about Rotovirus; can we afford to vaccinate the cows against this?? Can we afford not to? Ensuring we feed enough causmag all winter is a must, along with limeflour to within three weeks of calving, after which we will more than likely feed gypsum mixed with the maize silage. Prevention of metabolic issues is way better than dealing with down and sick cows.
The Ag fieldays have just finished and even though so much is replicated every year, I never cease to be amazed by the new stuff we see, by the things I always see and still enjoy seeing, and by the amount of people that turn up from ALL walks of life to have their day being involved in agriculture. I see the fieldays as a day when the whole community seems to come together and celebrate our great industry. The rural and urban community seem to unite at this time; if only this unity could keep on going the whole year around. As an example, I was on the Pioneer stand one day, earning my wage, while Bev was down the “townie end” spending it all, plus a bit more! Unity in action! Fieldays is great, it’s a money spinner for the local community, it brings people together and it gives us all a pride in the industry we are involved in. It also gives me time to spend with Sam as we plan the year ahead and discuss what may or may not work for us on our place. I made sure that I stayed away from any big ticket areas of expenditure, such as tractors, just in case he got any funny ideas. Frequent trips to different banks for a snack and advice on budgeting set the tone for our spending on the day so I got away relatively unscathed, only buying a new calf tuber and some items of clothing.
We did, however, spend time getting more info on the ‘flashmate’ heat detectors at the Gallagher stand. Fieldays is also a great opportunity to bond with young Hayze. He gets a day off school to come along with a friend, and we spend time together looking at things, doing blokey stuff etc etc….NOT! He came along alright but disappeared before we got in the gate and only reappeared twice all day, both times needing more money!! May have been cheaper to leave him home and go buy a tractor after all!!
Enjoy the rest of your “time off” (so to speak), have a break, come to a SMASH conference (details on our website http://www.smallerherds.co.nz) and look forward to a new season and all the possibilities that come with it.