Clover Crosse

2nd December 2020

Share a typical day on farm with sheep and arable farmer Clover

Update - December 2020

It's November, and I’m as busy as a sheep and arable farmer can be at this time of year! At the end of October, we welcomed sheep back onto the farm for the first time in 23 years. This was a goal that I set when I first started as an NSA Ambassador in February 2020. We have some ewe lambs and ewes grazing 39ha of cover crop (oil radish and vetch mix), which is destined for peas in the Spring. We have 140 sponged ewes, ready to lamb in mid-January and the rams have just gone in with the April lambers, so I look forward to taking some time off to help with both lambings. 

I will be the first to admit that nothing has dramatically changed for me during Covid and I’m secretly enjoying the ‘downtime’. However, knowledge sharing events, such as NSA Sheep 2020, SHAWG and monthly Hampshire Sheep Group meetings have been sorely missed. Although I have enjoyed the topics covered in replacement Zoom meetings, I have struggled with the lack of natural, interpersonal dynamics which are needed for a flowing and productive meeting. I am looking forward to a more socially interactive 2021 and to catching up with everybody. Long term, I would like to continue grazing cover crops with the sheep during the winter, which will hopefully benefit both parties, sustainably, for the future.

Update - April 2021

Spring drilling is finished and I am using a brief, quiet period to knuckle down to office work. I am preparing an exciting business plan, starting my own flock. As an already high performing 330ha arable farm, any change has its risks, but we are spending more and more money on maintaining soil health. I am looking to introduce a grass rotation alongside the cover crops already grown and run a low maintenance system with ewes that will look after themselves. We are having a discussion this week regarding the BPS, agri-environment payments we can access and the best way to utilise our resources. After this meeting, I will have a better gauge of what I have to work with. I have also been offered grazing on a neighbouring farm which could see breeding ewes through the summer months. I would like to start with buying in store lambs to finish off grass and forage crops, progressing into establishing my own outdoor lambing breeding flock.

Long term, I hope to see increased soil fertility and reduce our synthetic cropping inputs, whilst benefitting from clean grazing and additional income from lamb sales. The majority of the infrastructure required is already in place, we have machinery to establish leys and maintain pastures, fencing and water, so initial outlay will be moderate. I still have a lot of costs and figures to collate, but I am confident that this is the best move for the farm and a fantastic opportunity, for which I am very grateful for. 

Update - June 2021

Receiving less than half of our average monthly rainfall for both March and April, together with low soil temperatures has meant our spring crops have had a slow start. However, with two inches of rain in as many weeks and a rise in temperature, there has been a much needed, flush of grass and growth.

I spent a week away from the farm recently on a tree climbing and aerial rescue course. Like many others, I underestimate the power of time away, doing something completely different to my ‘normal’. I have also been busy shearing, several small flocks locally. Again, this is a great thing to get me off the farm. As mentioned in my previous update, plans to start my own sheep flock continue to tick along nicely.