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We have now begun the task of re-building the IH 454 tractor the engine is now refitted and I should get the front axel on today. It has had an engine rebuild so it should work better. While I was milking this morning I heard a cow slip over in the collecting yard nothing out of the ordinary there as they can often do this as they are squabbling amongst themselves however when I let the next group in it proved to be a vet job as she had managed to sever part of a teat. It has now been stiched and sorted but she will be sore for about 6-8 weeks. It is currently about 5.5c with a 30mph wind however although cold it will help dry up the fields for yet more muckspreading.

I hate spanner work (mechanicing) even though I know how to do it. It seems to be something I have grown out of since I got older. However I have now re-assembled the IH454 and it is running fine. It made me realise how cumbersome the loader scraper combination was on the IH784 and although smaller scraping up is taking half the time and you can get “more in the corners” to collect the muck. This leads me on to the next bit we are now back on with muckspreading as it has dried up again. The shed is now clear of tractors and can now be cleared up ready for the mext school class at the end of the month.

Tomorrow sees the arrival of Mathieu a French vetinary student from Lyon college for a weeks works expirience. He is comming along with two friends and the arrangements are the same as last year if you look at out February 2007 report. It seems it may become a regular thing. It certainly helps me try to remember/improve the French I learnt over 30 years ago. We have some stock work as well as the routine work  so I hope he enjoys himself.

More muckspreading today and Mathieu has had a day our on the road with Mark from our vet practise. Tomorrow he is going hoof trimming with Guy our trimmer. Dave and Pat from the estate have been fixing the roof and we have used their ladders to fix a new TV airel for Mick . More muckspreading for me tomorrow but I think if I carry on this will be the last full day as I will run out of muck to spread. The day time temperature has been unusually warm and we now have crocus in flower to go with our snowdrops I’m expecting some rubbish weather next month just when we want to get properly stuck in to the spring work and get the cows out.

Muck store now empty and yards clear thanks to this dry spell. The temperature has now fallen and this morning at 6.10 it was -2.7c and falling as the dawn broke. At time of writing now it is -0.5c . Mathieu our French student is enjoying himself working with the cows and he has trips out with our vets and with Guy the cattle hoof trimmer for more click this link www.nacft.co.uk  Today we have visited the salt museum to show him Cheshire’s other main product. Here he is sat on a tyre from one of the huge machines that work below ground We are displaying with the roadshow next May as part of their display on Cheshire farming learn more here www.saltmuseum.org.uk.

From -2.5c yesterday to 10.7c today quite a temperature leap. Just off to feed the cows and then we have some calves to de-horn.

Good expirience for Mathieu. Yesterday we went to look at a 48 cow rotary milking parlour owned by farmers Ian and Andy at Byley. They are milking around 400 cows through it in about 3 hours. A really nice system but I must confess I’m happy as a small farmer.

Mathieu has now safely returned to Lyon and I have spent today cleaning out calf pens. Today is also my little sister’s birthay so happy birthday Jean.  Simon and the Middlewich young farmers debate team are hard at work preparing for their semi final against the Nantwich club next week. Steam cleaning in the milking parlour tomorrow.  

That's it for this month regards Phil



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