What’s been happening at Swillington Organic Farm?

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Swillington Organic Farm – News from January

The cattle are enjoying the great outdoors

January is usually the quietest month of the year on the farm. There are no births due this month and the short days are spent doing routine jobs, such as feeding and checking livestock.

The mild, dry winter (so far!) has meant that most of the cattle can stay outside grazing. As organic-reared livestock, the more time they spend doors the better, so we’ll leave them out unless we get wet weather. They have nice thick coats and plenty of trees for shelter.

The cattle came back from RSPB’s St. Aidan’s grassland, where they spend part of the year grazing on all the delicious wild nutrients. The grassland needs to be left free for ground-nesting birds right now, but thanks to the new fencing provided by the RSPB, the journey was a doddle.

They seem pleased to be coming home!

Thinking ahead to springtime births

Spring is a busy time for the farm, as we prepare to welcome the next generation of organically-reared cattle, sheep and pigs.

Hershey the Hereford rent-a bull has now done his job and has visited us for the last time. His daughters will be coming into the herd next year so we can’t use him again.

The vet has been pregnancy testing the cattle and most are in calf. They’re due to start calving in March and the later calving cows will be moving back to St Aidan’s for the spring.

The Hebridean sheep have also come home and all the ewes have been scanned. Scanning them means we know which are having twins or singles and the twin-bearing ewes are given extra feed.  The ewes without twins don’t need extra feed, otherwise, they might have big lambs which can make for difficult lambing. The lambs are due to be born early April.

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Welcome to Hamish the boar

We have a new addition to the pig herd, Hamish the Saddleback boar. He’s been here since December on loan to breed with our pigs. He’ll be staying on for a while as he has a lovely temperament and we’re looking forward to seeing his first piglets in April.

In the garden

In the garden, we’ve been clearing last year’s crops, rotating and general tidying. We’re hatching another plan to rabbit proof the garden, which will be put in place before everything starts growing again.

When the weather is mild, it’s always tempting to start sowing seeds too early. But we’ll leave it until the end of the month and then start with broad beans, tomatoes and onions in the polytunnel.

There are plenty of birds coming to the bird feeders in the orchard, mainly goldfinch, chaffinch and blue tits. But we’ve also spotted the parakeet thugs!

A new addition to the garden are our Silkie Bantams. These flamboyant characters will hopefully help the ducks to control slugs later in the year.

 

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