We have now started to move forward into spring and there is a noticeable difference in the length of the day, which is always a good sign.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the weather and it has been another very wet week.

Around a fortnight ago it felt like spring was in the air, with a few windy rain-free days helping to dry things up considerably, though ground conditions were still by no means ideal. Dad and I decided we would start the ploughing campaign and managed one 7ha field before it started raining again with the arrival of Storm Ciara.

We had hoped to start the ploughing campaign with our new Massey Ferguson 7719 which arrived before Christmas. However, on mounting the plough onto it, dad found there was a problem with the speed of the rear lift.

The issue wasn’t mechanical and appears to have been a problem with some of the software being incorrectly loaded in the factory, which has now been resolved. Fingers crossed everything works perfectly going forward and it was just a wee teething problem.

As there hasn’t been much field work going on over the past month, we’ve been keeping busy with draining, ditching, cutting back trees and other general maintenance, along with sorting out seed and fertiliser for the spring, and working through a few cashflows for the year ahead.

We’re growing Sassy seed, and Sassy and Laureate malting barley. We have 35ha that we don’t have a firm variety planned for yet, but it will either go into Laureate, or potentially into a new variety, depending on if there is a contract available.

Wheat crops are looking pretty poor in places, and utterly dire in other places, due to waterlogging and poor conditions at sowing. We would usually try and get on the wheats around the start of March with the first liquid fertiliser, but as ground conditions are so wet we have bought some solid fertiliser and plan to apply 180kg/ha of Extran (33.5-0-0).

That will give 60kg/ha/N, as we reckon the tractor and spinner will be able to travel a lot sooner than tractor and sprayer. Added to the fact we sold our sprayer in the autumn and have ordered a new one which is yet to arrive, so we don’t actually have a sprayer just now.

We’ve had a steady stream of fat lambs leaving farm over the last five weeks and now only have a few stragglers left. We put off 35 cull ewes at the end of January which made up to £158 per head, which we were very happy with.

We’ve been really pleased with the prices we’ve got for our lambs too and it seems keeping them all through to January before starting to fatten them was a good idea. Here’s hoping prices continue to stay strong, but with so many factors affecting markets it’s unlikely the boom will last for too long.

Lambing is not too far away, and we gathered our ewes in to dose for fluke and vaccinate and to give ewe lambs their first dose of Heptavac. We’ve got sheds all mucked out from the lambs being inside fattening so we are nearly ready for lambing.

We also had a new animal appear on farm this week with an otter turning up in the garden to try and make off with some of our hens – who says arable farms don’t have wildlife diversity?