Three weeks into my new business and it is all very interesting. I have been to a "starting a new business" course and met people setting up a range of businesses, including someone making biltong in Boston. I gave them an AHDB booklet on day two - I am still weaning myself off.
It has been brilliant to speak to the range of people who are interested in working with me and it is particularly interesting to how the "network" is working. There is a massive range of opportunities out there and I am talking to farmers, farmer groups and a range of companies.
In mid January my flipchart and I worked with Farming Connect in Wales and a newly formed discussion group to discuss ewe nutrition around lambing. It was interesting to see the range of systems represented in the room, however prolapses and twin lamb were common queries across farms. We discussed how we need to improve our management of ewes as they transition on to different diets, as it takes two to three weeks for the rumen to adapt. The focus of the meeting was to aim to maximise the amount of forage within the diet and using high quality concentrates to top up when necessary. The presentation of forage was discussed and my hatred for ring feeders may have leaked out.
We discussed the energy and protein requirements of ewes in late pregnancy and early lactation, and used AHDB's Feeding The Ewe to highlight the increase in requirements, for example a 60% increase in energy requirements in the last six weeks. I did a mildly successful demonstration of feed intake requirements using hay, bin bags and a luggage weigher - I am sure it was memorable for all the right reasons!! It was aiming to illustrate how much forage ewes have to eat to meet their energy requirements, particularly in early lactation.
Farming Connect had coordinated silage analysis for the attendees, so we had some discussion about silage, haylage and hay quality. Plus what could be done differently this season to improve quality, for example timings of nitrogen application to improve protein levels and cutting dates to improve the amount of leaf and therefore energy. Not sure if the pub was use to having so much silage and hay on the carpet.
We were comparing the greenest of the hay samples at one point and discussed the joys of 2018 for making hay.
I have another two workshops with Farming Connect in early February in Wales and it will be interesting to see if the same queries come up. Plus I would have perfected the feed intake demo by number three!!
Operation Fanispan is the name I have given to the next phase of my life. It comes from a recent visit to Fanispan, which is the highest mountain in Vietnam and involved a terrifying ride on a cable car, then various stages of hardship to get to the summit. It was a good analogy for the adventure I am embarking on - I am resigning from the job I loved to challenge myself.
The resignation stage is just like when we left the cable car station - terrifying, comes fast and no way of turning back.