Cows, kids and wildlife
As you know the weather has been pretty glorious and the cows have definitely enjoyed it. Our new Hereford bull Nigel has joined us and is settling in well. He was born at Netherhall Farm, Kirby Londsdale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, so had quite a trip down to Waterhay. He's busy with part of the spring calving herd and appears to get on well with Rambo our other bull. This is essential as when he's not with the cows we like to keep our bulls together. The summer calving herd are looking barrel like with the first calves due in a couple of weeks.
Due to the dry weather its looking more like high summer than early June but wet weather is on its way which will helpfully kick start the grass growing again. We have made some silage for the winter which is great, but the hay meadows are looking a bit bare - those on the flood plain suffered seriously from the winter flooding. However a home schooling botany lesson proved that the slightly higher areas are still full of some of our most valued wild flowers like the Great Burnett which has already started to flower. We also have good amounts of Yellow Rattle which is a hemiparasite and lives in and on the grass. Both of these are now rare in agricultural grasslands.
Compared to March the river has dropped over a metre and in some places is now only welly depth. The amount of silt it moved around last winter is now visible, with new banks of it in some spots and river side trees undermined (and fallen over) in others. One thing I really like to see are the lilly pads. We have 2 sections where these really do well (the deeper bits) and these are already being defended by Red Eyed Damsel flies who aggressively occupy one each. Another bit of homeschooling was some river dipping which turned up fish fry and tiny crayfish (and silt covered kids).
On the bird side I have already recorded over 80 species on the farm with June already being a bumper month. We have more Swallows around than last year, and many more Swifts. In fact we had a spectacular stack of ground hugging Swallows, House Martins in the middle and Swifts at the top over the field yesterday, which were then seriously upset by a Hobby swooping in. I just have to attract the young swifts to use my swift hotel as we need to get them breeding on the farm. Its also been great to see a pair of Mistle Thrush on the area we cut for silage - a lawn on a grand scale for them to patrol.
Hopefully at some point this year we can have a farm walk where you can come along, as pictures and words are a poor substitute really. Fingers crossed.....