On the horns of a dilemma (or several)RSS feed

Posted: Thursday 24 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:28pm in Land Comments closed

Where to start. Last year, we decided to split Five Acre field in two - although five acres isn't a lot to a big farmer, our small numbers of stock would benefit from smaller paddocks that we can rotate them round. We made a plan and bought the stobs, strainers, Rylock and wire, with the intention of doing the job in spring before the calves were turned out.

Over the winter, it has become apparent that there is a drainage issue in the Orchard (to be) and Five Acre field i.e. there's a lake where there should be grass. Last week, we had a drainage contractor out to have a look and give us some options. He was here last Friday with a laser to take the levels accurately - one of the drawbacks of our very flat land is that there is only a 2 foot drop to the nearby drainage ditch.

Basically we have three options, if we accept that doing nothing isn't an option. We could dig a ditch running across the middle of the two fields then down the boundary of the Five Acre field to the main drainage ditch. This is the cheapest option in terms of the contractor but we'd have to double fence the ditches to protect them from the livestock and the livestock from them.

The second option is to put a field drain across the fields and a double fenced ditch down the boundary fence to the drainage ditch - because there's already a boundary fence on one side, we'd only need one new fence.

The third and naturally most expensive option is to install proper drains with a gravel backfill. This is our preferred option as it gives the best results, is relatively maintenance free and is least intrusive to the pasture. However, it comes with a £3800 price tag.

The other issue arising from this is that there is no point in putting in the dividing fence until the drainage work is done. Finding a use for the fencing materials isn't hard - the north fence of Sheepfold is in a pretty poor state and that's where the newly lambed ewes are going. But I'd really like to get the calves out - it's been very mild here today and they've been quite sweaty. The plan was to put the ewes in one half of the newly divided field and the calves in the other. The calves will go nuts and I don't want the sheep upset, especially close to lambing.

There's also the less significant issue of the quantity of manure building up in the byre that will need to be mucked out (by hand) if I want to use it at lambing time, although I could use part of the barn. It's only less significant if you aren't the person with the graip and the wheelbarrow, though.

So, what to do? Well, sit Dan down with a glass of something red and try and work out a new plan. The calves really have to go to Five Acre simply because it's the safest and easiest route to move them along, so we might have to move the sheep for a few days at least until the calves have calmed down and got into a routine, but Sheepfold's out because I'm keeping it for the new lambs. So it might be Dickie and Leo back into the Orchard and the ewes into the paddock or vice versa, then everyone in Five Acre until the drainage is sorted.

Too hard and too late at night, so off to bed! It will all still be there in the morning.

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