The farm on the first day of winter with a super El Nino on the way

On the first day of winter
On the first day of winter


“Monday morning feels so bad
Everybody seems to nag me
Comin’ Tuesday I’ll feel better
Even my old man looks good
Wednesday just won’t go
Thursday goes too slow
I’ve got Friday on my mind”

It’s winter’s first morning.  I’ve got spring and summer on my mind.
    The calves are arriving thick and fast now, with six healthy newborns yesterday. The days are a blur of hay, silage, calvings and colostrum but, mercifully, not mud. In fact, up until a week ago, the ground was so dry that the grass was growing at the same rate it does in summer – just one leaf per plant every 18 days.
     We’ve since had rain, with more forecast, and the grass has sprung into action again.  Winter’s shorter days, lack of sunlight and cooler soils will bring growth rates back again almost immediately – it’s one of Mother Nature’s few guarantees. Her moody El Ninos, however, are generally far less predictable but we’re being warned to prepare for one “out of the box” this year.
     All the tell-tale signs of an El Nino event are shaping up at a time when it would normally be far too early to forecast one of these protracted dry spells. So early, climate experts are predicting a Super El Nino. Drought with a capital “D”, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1998, the hottest year on record.
     What am I doing to prepare? As little as possible; you won’t see me opening my cheque book again this season for anything other than the necessities.
     The truth is that we are already doing a lot to adapt to a drier climate: shifting the calving pattern, planting trees for shade and pasture shelter, sowing more resilient pasture species, reusing effluent and kitting out the dairy yard with sprinklers.
     Fingers crossed.


8 thoughts on “The farm on the first day of winter with a super El Nino on the way

  1. Thank you for sharing some of the realities of a farmer’s life. It’s a rare glimpse outside of the city mindset, and I appreciate hearing it directly from the horse’s mouth.


      • I originally found you through a bit of web searching for milk price war material, wanting horses-mouth (yeah there’s that phrase again :P) info to complement the raft of views from industry and protest groups. As for topics I’m after – well, you’re offering it, and I’m grateful. A bit of detail on how a given issue really affects you, how you respond to changing (market, environmental, political, etc) conditions, and snippets of the variety of farm life. Great reading.


    • Greg,

      You need to spend more time on a farm and up close and personal with some of the creatures on them. She is a milk maid not a horse. I am sure Marian and family could find work for such a good hard working volunteer as yourself.



  2. Hello this is not related to this particular blog post but I just wanted to ask whether if it was okay with you if I used your name and included some of your daily farm routines in my feature article for school? I am currently writing an article about how farmers do not get enough recognition or fair pay and I came across your blog post and I thought it would make my article more realistic if I included some of the daily routines of a real farm family. It is not a real article, just a school assignment and I just wanted to ask for your permission. I greatly admire your blog. Thank you! 🙂


  3. Pingback: Hoarding hay while the sun shines at the solstice | The Milk Maid Marian

Leave a Reply - comments are moderated, so don't worry if your comment doesn't appear straight away, I'm probably just off feeding a child or a cow!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s