It appears that I have now finished my first year at Harper Adams – and what a year it has been.
Who would have thought that it was nine months since I started as a fresher, wrote my first column and moved into our student house. And now we have all moved out and left it in a much cleaner state than it has ever been (I do hope our landlord takes note of this when deciding on whether to give our deposits back).
More importantly, I have come away with some great memories and lots of fantastic friends.
So this month I am writing my column from very different surroundings. There’s not a cow or a sheep or even a crude Harper Adams t-shirt to be seen! Just high-rise buildings and lots of people in suits, running round at a fast rate to get to work. Yes, I’ve got a summer job in London.
June started with exams, four in total, and fingers crossed I did well enough to pass my first year. An invite for a BBQ at our student house was taken up by a lot more people than we had expected, but it was certainly a great way to celebrate the conclusion of exams. Luckily they didn’t cause that much damage; although we were surprised to find the screws out of the ceiling and our bin on the roof.
That weekend we made a trip to the Three Counties Show, where I came first in the YFC beef stockjudging and Sammie’s first-ever attempt at judging breeding gilts netted her a fourth place.
The girls and I then went straight down to Hereford for a Teme Valley YFC dance, where we were hosted by Jack Hanson and his family. It was a fantastic night and we were also privileged enough to go on a farm walk the following day.
Dad took a break from calving, silaging and haymaking to take Sammie and me to check out Andrew Hallifield’s new cattle handling system and to meet Professor Temple Grandin, cattle handling expert from Colorado State University.
I found the day very interesting and it was a chance to find out more about livestock psychology. The hydraulic squeeze crush in place on Andrew’s farm was, in fact, designed by Andrew and my dad. It was amazing to watch a pen of 60 cattle flow through a system within minutes. Even though our system back at home is a lot smaller, for us it saves time and it creates a much safer environment to operate within when working with cattle.
Stockjudging continued with my first ever trip to the Royal Highland for the National Limousin Young Breeders competition and then the West Midlands Area round of YFC Stockman of the Year at Rugby Market.
Matt and I managed to gain second place as a team at the Highland, while our junior member, Jess, cleaned up by winning both the junior and overall trophies. We were also successful as a team at Rugby Market, where we gained first place and Matt won the individual title for Staffordshire.
After a long drive back from the Highland, it was time for the biggest event in the social calendar: the 12-hour-long Harper Adams Summer Ball. It was a fantastic night, with plenty of entertainment to keep us going into the morning, including some top DJ acts, arcade games, fairground rides and plenty of watering holes. It was definitely an incredible way to end our first year in true Harper style. However, I do have to admit that the tiredness got the better of me and I only lasted until 4.30am… there is always next year, I guess.
More importantly, the night was an opportunity to celebrate the life of a fellow Harper student, Gethin Webb. Gethin was a final year studying REALM and this tragic loss has affected the whole of the Harper community due to his fun-loving and friendly approach to life. He will be greatly missed by all.
So now I am sat at my desk at Sainsbury’s Store Support Centre in Holborn, London, where I am completing a Food Product Technology summer placement.
However, due to their huge work load, I have been moved into the agriculture team to organise the shows that they will be exhibiting at over this summer; which could not be more perfect for me.
And even though my workload is challenging and I have been diagnosed with tonsillitis, I am thoroughly enjoying my time with Sainsbury’s. Let’s just hope that I get better in time for the Great Yorkshire and the Royal Welsh, the latter of which I will also be part of team showing around 30 cattle. I will certainly be kept busy.