This is the first guest blog in the Spring of 2021, brought to us from local farming partner Rhian Pinches.
My first little blog post for 2021! I am really chuffed to have been asked to get involved again this year and hope that my ramblings can provide a few minutes of easy-reading peace for anyone who is interested!
I thought I would begin with a short introduction as it feels like such a long time ago since I last wrote; I am Rhi, mother of two little girls and I farm alongside my Dad on our busy sheep and beef farm in Shropshire. Our ewes mostly consist of Welsh mules which we lamb outdoors in April and eventually all of the lambs are sold for meat in local markets. We run a suckler herd of some 160 cows, calving most of them in the spring and some in the autumn too. We fatten all of our own calves, which means that we leave them with their mothers for as long as we are able, supplementing them with concentrates and quality silage until they meet requirements between the ages of 12 and 16 months. In addition, we buy in handfuls of store cattle/bucket rearing calves when suitable to accompany our fattening young-stock.
Onto the real reason you are reading this… Curlews. So, we heard and saw our first Curlews of the season on 22nd Feb. To us farmers it feels like spring is on its way when we hear our first Curlew call. It makes you feel happy and that all is well in the cycle of seasons. Lambs- swallows- calves – cuckoo. From that day on we have seen and heard them more and more! Personally, I think there seems to be more pairs around than last year, (or maybe I’m just getting old and remembering where the hot-spots are from one year to another?) As we approach a busy few weeks of lambing time, I expect to spot the pairs settling into their chosen positions. Lambing outdoors means we are in and out of the fields to check the sheep and we have a great opportunity to monitor the birds and their behaviour fairly closely. Each year we enjoy watching their progress, only to feel sad when things suddenly go quiet and the birds are gone before the time we know they needed to fledge chicks.
I don’t like to think of the poor busy little birds we see failing to breed again. Although they are wild animals and we don’t own them, when they choose to build a nest on our land and attempt to bring harmless, new life into the world, it feels like our duty to keep them as safe as we are able and protect them. We can’t do what we want though. Whilst we can leave them un-disturbed on pasture they share with our stock, they are hidden in grass crops and likely to get accidentally rolled or mowed. Predation is a big problem. I am chair of the Curlew Country Farmers group and we have wanted to have proper predation control and payments for loss of crop for some time. We can’t give our birds a chance without this, but do need help to secure this and save the birds that everyone loves.
Keeping this very short and sweet, I would like to thank anyone who has taken the time to read this. I will definitely be writing again soon for you and hoping to capture some lovely videos and pictures on the Curlew here too. Rhi x