8 Sep 2023

Spring has sprung and sowing has begun

From Country Life, 7:14 pm on 8 September 2023

The cash crops are going in and the last of the trading lambs are heading off at Tim Cookson's farm near Hororata.

Tim Cookson

Tim Cookson Photo: Cosmo Kemtish-Barnes

Tim waits for the truck to pick up the lambs that were fattened over winter.

"They're actually too big to go to the freezing works. If they do go we'll get penalised."

He would only get mutton prices for them so it's not worth it.

"This is why they're off to the Coalgate Saleyards."

To the untrained eye, the woolly mob look more like young ewes.
So when does a lamb officially become a sheep?

"Basically it's defined by when their two adult teeth pop through, so these ones haven't yet, but it could easily happen in another month or so," Cookson says.

Tom Cookson

Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Drilling barley contracted to Gladfield Malt

Drilling barley contracted to Gladfield Malt Photo: Supplied

Cropping-wise it's all hands on deck at the 700 hectare property.

So far, most of the spring barley has been planted.

This normally follows the winter feed crops.

"And in the next few weeks we've got the hybrid radish, spinach [for seeds], then after that forage crops and maize for silage, which will be early November."

Some of the barley is drilled for Gladfield Malt, which produces over 50 different malt varieties for brewing.

Cookson grows the Laureate barley variety as it's high yielding and has a high malting quality.

He says growing it requires regular monitoring of the protein level in the grain.

"If the protein level is too high, basically what happens is the beer is cloudy - and the brewers don't like cloudy beers!"

Tom Cookson

Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

It's an important time of year not only for Cookson.

As the American statesman Daniel Webster said back in 1840 "when tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization."