I have now finished the last of my summer exams, signalling the end of my first academic year – and what a year it has been.


The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” could not be more fitting, as it seems like only yesterday that I arrived at Harper for freshers’ week full of nerves and anticipation. That said, these last few weeks have dragged as revision and exams have dominated.

Trying to stay motivated in the run-up to exams has been difficult, not helped by the nice weather and all the distractions it brings. Typically, the sun chose to appear just as students went into revision mode, and this brought about the return of flip-flops, shorts, paddling pools and barbecues all over campus.

Strangely, the smell of a barbecue and the thought of a cold cider have, on occasion, been much more appealing than writing notes on the principles of market segmentation, or remembering the daily live weight gain of a sow. As a result, visits to the local beer garden have been commonplace after a long day at my desk.

Away from revision, the Agriculture and Business course dinner mentioned in my last column turned out to be an enjoyable evening. Students, staff and guests wined and dined their way through a four-course meal while listening to a few words by guest speaker Adam Henson, from BBC’s Countryfile.

Adam spoke passionately about his own farm, as well as the wider agricultural industry, and joined in well with the Harper banter throughout the evening. He was also popular with the ladies who made the most of numerous photo opportunities.

I also spent a weekend in Warwickshire with my girlfriend and her family, attending the Warwickshire Young Farmers county rally with her club, Coleshill Young Farmers.

The rally featured YFCs from across the county competing in competitions ranging from stock judging to flower arranging. The tug-of-war was a highlight, and it certainly generated some fierce competition as male and female teams battled the heat while trying to demonstrate strength on the rope.

Activity on the college farm has increased recently, with first-cut grass silage and lucerne harvesting being carried out by a local contractor. The distant rumble of tractors and trailers carting to and from the clamp could be heard across campus and provided a welcome distraction to shifting through lecture notes.

Students could often be spotted watching the buckrake in the yard or the forager out in the field, and as one coursemate pointed out, this distraction should be classed as “visual revision” of mechanisation and forage production.

A break in the exam period gave me the opportunity to attend the Suffolk Show with a couple of friends, one of whom was there to show his Hereford cattle with his family farm, Newtoncroft Farms.

I’ve only watched cattle showing from the outside of the ring, so it was a real eye-opener seeing the effort and skill involved with getting stock ready in the lines, prior to being judged in the ring.

Newtoncroft Farms showed four cattle and came away with a respectable display of prizes and rosettes, including reserve Hereford champion, best pair of Herefords, as well as a first and third place with two one-year-old bulls. The well-attended show was bathed in sunshine and had an impressive display of livestock, machinery and agricultural trade stands.

With my first year over I have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of months, not least heading back to Somerset for the Glastonbury Festival and moving up to Malvern to start my harvest job.

In the meantime there is the biggest event in the social calendar coming up – the famous Harper Adams Summer Ball. Described by many as the best ball of the year, it’s set to be a fantastic way to end my first year in true Harper style.


Steve Mears, 19, is in the first year of a four-year degree in Agriculture with Mechanisation at Harper Adams in Shropshire