April 2005

View from the Hill                                        3rd April 2005

We still have some calves on milk, as you can see, just four on a once a day feed now, you could continue to feed them milk for nine months and they would still complain when you finally wean them!  We have bought 35 calves since last autumn, and they are now doing well on a home mixed ration based on barley and oats, with silage or hay to provide roughage, until it is warm enough and there is enough grass to turn them outside.  The older cattle have finished the turnips on the knoll, and are now moving around the farm munching off the kale in the shooting covers.  There are still a few two year olds in the bunch, two are due to go to Shaftesbury market soon, with the last three being kept back until the summer.

We have now sent most of last year’s lambs to Lloyd Maunder in Devon, who have recently suffered the blow of having Sainsburys dismiss them as suppliers of West Country lamb.  Apparently Sainsburys think they can source their lamb cheaper elsewhere.  Where this will leave the West Country’s lamb producers I am not quite sure.  Do the supermarkets operate in a fair and honest fashion, or do they have an unacceptable amount of power in the marketplace?

It is quite obvious that as customers, when we buy lamb (or any other stuff from the supermarket) we pay for it at the till on the day.  What is not quite so well known is that most supermarkets’ payment terms are 90-day payments.  This means that they have your money in the till for 90 days before they pay their suppliers.  What do they do with that money?  Yes, they put up more stores, and continue to do more of the same.  Any wonder that Tesco makes £1 billion profit?  Someone told me the other day that 22% of that profit is earned as interest on your money before they pay their suppliers.

We have sown all the spring barley, which is now up and looking delicious, this leaves just 55 hectares of linseed to go in now, in the fields where the animals have been eating turnips all winter.  Linseed needs the ground to be warming up well so that it will grow away strongly as soon as it is sown.

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