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With the onset of lambing and calving, Suzie Corboy has taken leave from her other job as an ambulance officer.

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NOVEMBER ALREADY AND the Owaka Valley is looking good, but the weather is still variable. We had snow last week, then 20C a day or two after. We were fortunate that over lambing and calving we had no extreme weather events that caused excessive lamb or calf losses.

We lamb from mid-September to mid-November by the time the hoggets finish lambing, so we usually catch at least one miserable weather event.

We haven’t tailed yet, but aren’t expecting great results. Although scanning was high at 198% this means more triplets which have a higher percentage of losses than twins. Also, like many in our area, ewe losses were high. This was mainly due to milk fever and bearings, although our ewes did not have many bearings in comparison to some local farms. I heard horrendous reports of some flocks having 150 to 200 bearings.

We had 147 in-calf heifers this year and at the time of writing it has been one of the easier calving seasons I can remember. Calving has been slow, obviously some issues back at mating, unsure if this was due to heifers or bulls, but the in-calf rate at scanning was about normal, so the only issue from this is the average calf age will be younger.

We have so far had no down or dead heifers, have not had many calving problems, and only a few dead calves. A younger, alive calf beats a dead calf any day.

I had six weeks off from my other job as an ambulance officer, for lambing and calving. We typically have to calve about 5% of our heifers due to difficulties with presentation or just the calves being a bit big, so it is easier when there are two of us on the farm. Also, it is a busy time of year, so I think my being here is appreciated.

We do not really have a quiet period on the farm, so I could be here full time without running out of work, but ambulance work gives me a different challenge and a lot of contact with people.

I enjoy helping others and we see people usually having a bad day, and if we can make that situation better then I get a sense of fulfilment, and people tend to thank you more than animals, although you can shout at animals and swear when things aren’t going so well. This is not appropriate behaviour with people and tends to lead to complaints, not that I have tested this theory, despite being tempted on more than one occasion.

Tractor work is the main priority from now until Christmas. Paul bought me a newer tractor, hoping all the fancy buttons and bluetooth radio will tempt me to spend more time driving it. It has worked, but I am sure he will have stolen it before you read this, and I will be back to the smaller, older tractor.

We have about 63 hectares to sow in grass, most of which was in winter feed, and 47ha to be sown with swedes or fodder beet. Half of the winter feed will be strip-tilled by a contractor. This has produced excellent yields for us previously and reduces our workload with a one-pass operation.

Best wishes for a restful Christmas, hope you all have a good season and that we all get rain when it is needed.