We are now three weeks into the Summer term here at Harper. However, instead of revision, my last few weeks have been filled with cleaning up the farm for YFC stockjudging, preparing for the YFC Rally and helping to organise the Agriculture, Business and Food Course Dinner at college.
Even though the stockjudging ran smoothly, tidying the farm was not as easy as we first thought. Not when Dad was around anyway. It seemed as though every piece of wood, metal, stone or rubbish would ‘come in handy one day’.
The Staffordshire YFC Rally will this year be held at Pool Farm, near Market Drayton. The weather certainly wasn’t on our side when we were setting up. However, at the time of writing the weatherman has forecast a sunny day with a 0% chance of rain. I really hope the BBC is correct or there’s a good chance I’ll drown in the main ring.
As for the Agric Course Dinner, it sold out in just over an hour so we have had to increase our numbers to 300 guests. We are delighted to have Noble Foods on board this year as our main sponsor along with many other agricultural-based companies such as AB Agri, British Sugar, McDonald’s, Rea Valley Tractors, Anglo Beef Processors and Shropshire Cheese Company who will be supplying cheese platters following the meal. The support shown by all our sponsors is incredible and we’re all looking forward to welcoming them at the dinner in true Harper fashion.
The charity auction is coming along well too, with prizes donated from many local businesses and native breed societies. I have a feeling the highlight of the evening might end up being our guest speaker for the evening, Herefordshire livestock farmer Mr Roger Williams, who’s lined up to entertain the party with his quirky rural sense of humour. He’s a big character with a track record in after-dinner speaking, so I’m sure we’ll hear some colourful stories about particular members of the committee.
In between all the YFC and Harper madness I did manage to squeeze in a holiday. No, not to the Bahamas or Benidorm, but to the quaint Yorkshire Dales to visit farmer Thomas Heseltine at Hesketh Farm Park. Tom, or ‘Ginge’ as we call him at Harper, and his family run Hesketh Farm Park in the village of Bolton Abbey, near Skipton. It was so interesting to see how they ran their beef and lamb farm alongside the farm park. I was struck by the range of attractions, the volumes of visitors they received and how beneficial this agricultural, family-run business was in helping children to understand the origin of their food. There’s no doubt this is important when you consider the distorted image that agriculture currently has amongst the urban population.
My third NFYFC AGM is now done and dusted and it was lovely to return to Torquay, even though the weather was far from welcoming. The ARAC forum on the Saturday was a morning well spent, with Jim Paice MP and Yeo Valley’s director of marketing Graham Keating both taking to the stage. Mr Paice was faced with some challenging questions from young farmers about their future within agriculture but it was fantastic that members were able to interact with industry and government leaders. The rest of the weekend was, as always, full of laughter, junk food, a few headaches and a chance to catch up with friends from all over the country.
I have a long run of 21st birthday parties ahead of me now, which was kick-started with my Harper friend Jack Bull’s ‘Formal Farmer’ party in Oxford and Christian White’s James Bond-themed party in East Yorkshire. They certainly set the standard for the weekends to come and we were even treated to a farm walk on our visit to Yorkshire where they had some fantastic commercials to show this season.
My exams start on the 28 May which is creeping ever closer so, birthday season aside, I had really better get my notes out and buckle down to some serious revision. But with a jam-packed two weeks of the SU social calendar left, and lots still to organise for the Course Dinner, it is so easy to become distracted
20-year-old Harriet Wilson is going into her second year at Harper Adams, where she is studying for a BSc in Agri-Food Marketing with Business. Back home she manages her own herd of British Blue cattle on the family’s 300-acre farm in Haughton, Stafford.
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