GPS for Cows……

07 September 2021

September is usually the main month for harvest, but with the spring drought, crops have been consistently 2 weeks ahead of their normal ripening date this season. The upside is that we have experienced a “Gentleman’s Harvest” with several weekends off, which feels strange for us all.

As we complete our organic conversion this year, we are not planting any winter crops (other than grass) which would mean stubble fields would be left over winter – but in our bid to improve soil health, we have been planting Green Manures which will create a living mulch to cover soil, provide plant roots to help maintain soil biology and capture energy from the sun – converting it into carbohydrates for future nutrition. The land will be grazed in the spring with sheep before being planted into herbal grass mixes in spring 2022.

We visited Strathtyrum Farm (Balgove Larder) earlier this month, to see their trial with NoFence in action. Using GPS technology, cows are fitted with transponders which locate them in relation to a virtual fence (drawn by using an App on your phone). When the cows venture close to the virtual fence, there is an audible song from their transponders, which increases in volume and pitch the closer they get. Cows learn to turn around and the results are amazing. Using the App, exclusion zones can be created in each field, where cows will not graze. In practice, this mean that trees can be planted in pastureland, without the need to fence each tree. Once trees are established after 10 years or so, cows will be able to graze their lower branches providing “tree fodder” and shaping the trees for future. Although the technology is still in its infancy, the possibilities are endless and having arrived with our reservations – we left transfixed and convinced it is the future.

August saw our first home reared pigs head off to the abattoir and returned to the butchery. There will always be a feeling of unease, sending animals we have cared for to their destination, but the pigs have been such characters since their arrival, the feeling was more guilt than normal. Still – we got over it quickly and look forward to sampling the results of these outdoor bred, reared, and finished pigs who have roamed freely on grass fields for over 15 months.

In August, the Bowhouse Markets returned to their original format with street food and music, no one way system and almost a full barn of food and drink stalls. The results were a much more relaxed atmosphere with real feeling of normality returned. Over 4000 people attended, and we are delighted to be breathing a sigh of relief.

Share this