Halfway through calving and there is a bit of a lull. This is a catch-22 situation because although the break allows me to catch up on a few jobs and even get a bit of rest, the bank balance demands a compact calving. Milk in the vat is the only thing keeping the wolf from the door.
Keeping the bills paid is a stressful juggling act at this time of year when the milk cheques are small or non-existent and the demands for inputs are high. Add this financial pressure to the workload and no wonder some farmers reach the limit. Experience tells me to hang in there because this is only temporary and once the calves stop coming and the milk begins to flow, you know you have made it.
I had to go running off to the Bank of Pat (my mother) to cover this month's bills, which has become a regular annual event. Mums are awesome even when you are a grown-up and she never questions why I am still asking for money? I hope I can do the same for my kids in the future but that is even more reason for finding a way to make this work now.
Although I was bitterly disappointed at unexpectedly losing my previous job, people tell you when one door shuts another one opens. How true this is.
I now have the independence of leasing a farm where the management is completely up to me. I have taken the bull by the proverbial and installed a basic in-shed feeding system comprised of feeding troughs, an electronic pump and a 13,500 litre tank filled with Condensed Distiller Syrup (CDS).
This has all been installed for less than $10,000 and is working well. The in-shed feeding system has not been without its teething troubles but, as it stands, I pay the bills and call the shots, As long as I can continue to fund it, I do not have to justify any issues to anyone bar myself and the feeling is one of relief.
Calibrating the flow of liquid feed has been the main challenge. There are seven outlets and the knack is to allow flow to the furthest one without overflowing the others. I have been anxious because I don't want to see the precious CDS cascading on to the concrete. If the cows are not getting their fair share, they hit the outlets with their tongues and noses, sending them skew whiff, and then when the liquid flows it does not end up in the trough. Heifers have also jumped up on to the troughs to lick the CDS.
These are only minor faults and are quickly getting ironed out with extra brackets and some Kiwi ingenuity.
On a happy note, the cows love their CDS and are milking extremely well because of it.
The best I've ever seen for this time of year.
- © Fairfax NZ News