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March 2010 - Posts - View From The Other Side Of The Fence

View From The Other Side Of The Fence

Dreaming Of A Good Life

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    Diary Of Becoming A Farmer

    March 2010 - Posts

    Was it a Bird? Was it a Plane? Was it a Wolf? Can you Help

    At the risk of starting another "Big Cat Sighting" story I wonder if anyone can help Identify an animal spotted at my farm yesterday.  

    Tony and I was walking up the field boundry when all of a sudden about 8 foot away at the hedge fence we were drawn by the commotion of the unidentified animal was trying to squeeze through the wire fencing.  It tried very hard but with a square mesh of 6 inch it didn't really stand a chance.  There was some dead grass upto the fence which was obviously where this animal had been sun bathing till it was rudely interupted by us.  At that point I thought it a MonkJack deer. 

    It fought desperately for about 5 seconds to get through the fence, then when it realised it wasn't getting anywhere it turned and fled up the field to the coppice.  As it ran it went with a real spring in it's step, almost bouncing up the field.  What seemed strange to me was it's tail.  The tail stood ridgidly upright, about 14inch long with a white "warning sign" underside, like a rabbit does.  The tail didn't go to a point like a dog might, but just seemed too long for a Monkjack although I have seen MonkJack here before.    

    We both turned to each other and said "What the Hell was that?"  Has anyone any ideas?

    Lambing Live. Good Farming PR

    Well done the BBC.!?

    The programme has given a wonderful insight into the work that farmers do to bring the food to our table. It has shown that farmers are not money grabbers sponging off the single farm payment, but that they are caring people who whilst their life, (and business) is about trying to turn in a profit, that isn't at the expense of caring for their stock. We should be proud of our industry and if we don't shout from the rooftops about it nobody else will. Well done and Thank You to the Beavan Family for allowing the cameras onto their farm and presenting such a good view of farming.

    All industries have people who don't agree with the way things are done. Farming is no different.. Maybe it's that caring side that lets us down or makes us feel vulnerable. Last nights show (Tuesday BBC2 8pm) showed Presenter Kate Humble crying at the loss of a lamb. It was the first one she had lost whilst assisting with a birth. It was left to the tougher farming nut and co-presenter Adam Henson to explain that even though he's been farming all his life, things like that still effect him but he has learn't that it sometimes happens and there is nothing you can do about it. I can remember the first lamb I lost more than the first Ewe I assisted successfully. One of triplets similar to last nights programme, probably had the same problem, it's lungs weren't formed properly and didn't inflate upon it being born. I tried desperately to keep the life going but it just ebbed away in your hands.

    But we shouldn't be afraid to show this caring side, it will win us friends. Others do it quite cynically in the media with things that aren't as great as life and death. Be proud of Farming. It's a role that I believe the NFU should be more proactive in. Get the PR machine rolling. There is nothing as good as some fluffy animals to give some positive PR to Farming.

    From Field to Fork, Farming Matters and other PR phrases, lets keep Positive Farming stories in the Mainstream press. It's the best way to keep us in the minds of our Customers.

    Diary Of Becomming a Farmer. Happy New Year!!!

    So first of all, Happy New Year. Xx

    Yes, I know it's February and I'm wishing you a Happy New Year, better late than never.

    I was stirred by a couple of messages recently, (thanks Matty et al,) (see your comments are read and taken note on here...)

    Although I haven't a clue where time goes these days. Now having 2 jobs, my own farm to run and 3 kids does seem to push the blog down the list of priorities a little. Doesn't mean I think of you any less, just means I haven't the time to put finger to keyboard! So let's catch up and maybe the following will go some way to explain.

    So I started my contract as trainee herdsman and manager. Which soaked up all my spare time. Not that I had much in the first place. First job with our “Little Black Angus” was to top the pasture in the vain hope that any rain could produce a fresh flush of grass. However down in the South East we now know that the rain didn't come till winter time and then it hasn't stopped since.  As I type this I'm looking at standing water in the fields with more rain forecast!!!

    So topping. We had been given a topper that was being thrown out. We soon found out why. After ten acres the one weld (out of 4) that was still attaching the gearbox to the body of the topper couldn't take any more and the gearbox twisted on the body meaning the blades were no longer parallel to the ground, snapping the belt to the second blade and bringing the whole job to a halt. It wasn't too serious in the end, as I say we had no useful rain till the cattle where in the sheds and it was to cold for the grass to grow anyway.

    Having fed the silage to the cattle since end of July it was apparent that winter was going to be long, certainly in terms of useful ration for the cattle. To give you some idea how bad things were, 12 acres of silage where cut at the beginning of May yielding 60 bales of good silage. Second cut at the end of September gave just 16 bales, basically topping the field.

    So finishing the cattle was going to be expensive. They were still producing some good bodies though as was borne out by the comments from our customers.

    Next came Christmas. An ideal opportunity to get more customers and the orders came good, although as most farmers who retail their own animals will tell you, the secret is to sell the whole carcass not just the prime cuts. So a retail stand next to the Turkey collection point on Christmas Eve proved very good. SOLD OUT! Words to make every accountant sing carols!!

    Christmas with the kids is always a joy. Innocence and pleasure at opening their presents, pity they don't fall asleep after too much Christmas dinner though!  Although plenty of Turkey and Christmas pudding ensured that I did, so I wasn't really sure what they were up to.  But they had a good time which was the main thing.

    The next thing was New Year. Time to get our farm going on the next stage to Agricultural money spinning.  Or at least the NVZ files up to date!!! 

    The New Year was barely 8 hours old when the shine was taken from proceedings. A phone call that I was anticipating to wish me greetings to 2010 revealed that the last of my Grandparents had just died.  No real surprise in all honesty, she was 92 and very frail but a shock non the less and bad omen for the year to come?.  Life goes on we tell ourselves at times like these, so 4 days later we were selecting the next cattle for slaughter to restock after selling out at Christmas. The phone rings again to tell me that the wife of my new boss had just died. A huge shock. She wasn't as old as my Gran, although sadly she wasn't in the fittest of health it was still a huge shock.  I had been sat in her kitchen chatting and laughing with her over Turkey Sandwiches and Christmas cake on Christmas Eve as we took a short break from the Turkey Collections.  A wonderful woman, always with a smile and although I had only known her a short period of time I shall remember her with great fondness.

    So it would seem that the world was conspiring against us.

    The Day job had been making things hard for me too.  Spending 4 weeks in Bristol in two months, the wrong end of the country as far as I was concerned, meant I seem to be on the back foot chasing the accounts, which is frustrating me greatly.  The winter seemed to be winter.  Dollops and dollops of snow.  Did a load of good for while but I have to say I'm a little bored with it now.  Mixed with the rain we've also had and it will be at least 3 weeks of no rain before I can put a machine on the land!!

    We've put in for Planning at our farm for some sheds. Time will tell whether the domestic neighbours who were delighted that we “would be farming the land again” when we bought it will put their NIMBY hats on causing a lots of frustration. 

    But with 3 Birthdays since the beginning of the year, mine being one of them and it feels like I've had all 3 birthdays at once!!!   The latest was our George and this was his Birthday Cake. 

    The year has been eventful so far and we aren't out of February yet, time will tell how the other ten months fair. Watch this space.