January means thinking about the future and reviewing the past with the wet weather we had in Autumn, what effects has it had? What are we going to rectify?
One thing we have to do early on is have a 60 day Bovine TB retest (having failed our herd test in October). As they’re in over winter it is slightly easier but they still don’t like the idea and when you get a recently calved one go through without its calf, you have to be very careful to stay out of her way, all the time whilst you have panicking young calves trying to find their mums! Dangerous to both farmers, vets and the livestock themselves. We have taken the decision not to replace any animals we lose from the herd as it is too traumatic to choose what you think will make a good mother, only to see her taken whilst in calf or with a young one at her side!
As the cold bites and the days are still short, we see the occasional Woodcock, a tawny bird that feeds on worms and beetles at dusk in clearings in woodlands and by boggy areas. Our own population is supplemented at this time of year by migrants.
We start to lay old hedges now and soon we will cut our younger hedges. The maintenance makes for a vigorously growing hedge in spring as it always wants to grow towards the sun( don’t we all?) and also it forms a much more secure barrier to livestock. Also carbon sequestration occurs during growth and the more something will grow the better!
We are able to leave cutting ours until as late as possible so that birds etc can make use of the berries but other farmers are not so lucky, as roadside hedges need to be regularly trimmed for safety and arable fields need their hedges trimming before the seed is sown, but we are all very heavily regulated as to when/how they can be done.