Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Autumn winds, Welsh Dairy Event

Autumn has settled in with sudden change in the weather overnight. Winds have littered the ground with a rich carpet of golden beech leaves and the the garden has a thick scatter of ash twigs & leaves over the lawns and caught in the branches and brackets of shrubs. After the balmy weather of recent days it is a reminder that we are heading towards winter.
The season's rounds are marked as always not just by the weather but by the work on the farm. Hedge-trimming , slurry-spreading are both being done while the weather is good. The ram has just been put in with his harem of ewes and lambing will start in 5 months time. The milking cows are already being housed at night. Our herd is autumn-calving and so there is a shed full of calves to be fed twice a day and the chorus of their demands for milk start and end the working day for us all.

Yesterday the Farmer & I attended the Welsh Dairy Event held near Carmarthen. It is a hightlight of the year for many dairy farmers who come long distances to attend. As a show case for the industry it covers everything the modern dairy farmer needs to know as well as being an opportunity for herds to exhibit their best milking cows. We watched the judging ot the Holsteins which was very interesting. Holsteins are huge cows standing over 5ft at the shoulder and were certainly impressive. Our little British Friesians look positively Lilliputian in comparison.
Interestingly the general mood amongst the traders and farmers was very upbeat considering how dairying has been in the doldrums recently. Things seem to be improving and this was reflected in the conversations we had. Of course the one bad thing that continues is the bovine TB problem. Everyone has tales of losing cows and hating sending them off to slaughter.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Autumn, Holiday Cottages

Autumn has set in with misty mornings and a chill in the air. Mist in the valley is usually a promise of a sunny day and with the fine weather the Farmer and Sons have been very busy out hedge-trimming, slurry spreading and logging. The land is still dry and firm so as much work with tractors needs to be done while they can get onto the fields without making a mess.

Th poly-tunnel is still very productive and we are getting a good crop of tomatoes & sweet-peas. The potatoes are doing well and the cabbages seem to have avoided the predations of the cabbage-white caterpillars and the occassional rabbit that has ventured in.

The bookings for the holiday cottage have eased off somewhat but that is to be expected at this time of year, though half-term is booked out and the week after which is good. It has been a difficult year for many holiday accommodation providers in the area...there are more properties available as more people move to the area and decide to convert outbuildings without researching just how much accommodation already exists here. This is not a 'honeypot' area and so we have to really plug away at promoting the Teifi Valley The numbers of visitors are not increasing so there are the same number of people to fill a greater number of cottages. A quick count comes up with well over a dozen different holiday accommmodations just within a couple of miles of us and there are several more in the pipeline that I have heard of. For many of us the bookings are down this year which is just something we will have to weather. Travel abroad is so cheap and sunshine guaranteed so west Wales has to really work hard to compete. That said the visitors who do come to the area love it and many return.