Not quite monsoon weather
I’m writing this post hoping to be embarrassed by calling this a flop of a monsoon trough. Earlier in the week, we were promised 5 inches of rain by now but we’ve clocked up about a tenth of that in five days of drizzle with perhaps an inch or so supposedly delayed in traffic still to come. Not that I would ever look a gift horse in the mouth, of course!
The gift of a good soaking in summer is precious indeed. We don’t irrigate here so rely totally on what falls from the heavens and our farm is set up to make every drop count. The silver lining of greater climate volatility is more summer downpours. We have sown deep-rooted perennial pastures, including the heat-loving tall fescue and cocksfoot, throughout the farm. These pastures respond almost instantly to rain in summer and increase our resilience to an increasingly tricky climate.
Bring it on!
Golden leaves carpet the farmhouse driveway. Yes, it’s autumn at last but I’m not sure whether the ash are superbly tuned into the seasons or simply too water stressed to hold onto their leaves any longer. The crisp autumnal mornings are yet to arrive – it was already 26 degrees Celsius when Alex and I checked the weather outlook just before six this morning – and the farm is again desperately dry.
But a dairy farmer is always planning ahead. Last weekend we sent a handful of cows on their annual two-month maternity leave, with a dozen or so more to join them in a fortnight.
The summer millet crops are getting their final grazing today and tomorrow so we can prepare for sowing new perennial pastures when the “autumn break” finally arrives. We’re testing the soils of each paddock so we can apply just the right levels of nutrients – enough to maintain fertility without risking leaching into the river or water table.
In anticipation of rain (and mud), our cow tracks are also about to get a makeover to help prevent two of the most troublesome afflictions for dairy cows: lameness and mastitis.
Autumn is the time when dairy farmers lay the foundations of a successful season and it’s strangely exciting. I wonder what will mark this year?