Spring: the best time of the year
Rachel’s farmer, Haydn Evans, tells us about his favourite time of the year on his farm, Penrhiw, in South West Wales: Spring
Now that the lighter nights are with us and the sun has started to shine, you get the distinct feeling that spring is just around the corner. I always love this time of year on the farm, it feels promising as there is so much to do in the year ahead.
In spring, we have just let the cows out onto the field for the first time since last October. This is not for the faint hearted, as the cows seem to anticipate that you’re going to soon open the gate at long last. I’m sure that they sense this from smelling the sugars from the grass. It’s when we’ve opened the gate and all the cows have come through that we can really enjoy and take in the view.
Their excitement reaches fever pitch as they run around the field at race horse speed and kick their legs higher than any Strictly Come Dancing contestant. Eventually panting and out of breath, common habits prevail and they begin to graze the lush spring grass for the first time of the year.
It is a pleasure to see them out in the fields grazing grass which is such a fundamental and integral part of organic farming. It is also incredible to see this wonderful ability of the cow to convert the grass to milk, which allows us to provide the raw material for our yogurts.
However there is never that much time to daydream before my thoughts turn to providing winter forage for the year ahead.
The preparation of this all begins in the spring. By definition, organic cows must have a high forage diet and so, with this in mind, some of our fields are ploughed at this time of year, and we plant wheat, barley, oats and peas to feed them in the winter months. We also plant a lot of red and white clover as this has the ability to fix its own nitrogen from the air, providing further minerals to our already nutritious soil.
Inside, away from the fields, spring is also the time to give thought to the true meaning of spring cleaning. This means painting and decorating the milking parlour together with the dairy, but also giving the farm buildings a lick of paint too, as I strongly believe that the farm should look nice to visitors. We‘re a coastal farm and the footpath is through the farmyard and so we like to project the right image to our customers- we’re ambassadors for farming after all! We are very proud of what we do and take pride in the provenance of the product we supply.
The visual reminders of spring are simply stunning on the farm. I love to see the fresh water pond as the moor hen darts across the water looking for potential nesting sites. It is also just a few more weeks until my favourite birds arrive, Swallows, with their distinctive chirpy sounds and fantastic flying skills.
Spring is such a wonderful time of year down on the farm as everything comes to life. It’s an exciting time and we look forward to what the next few months bring!