For us, getting through Christmas is always a challenge. The catering business is flat out, there is less help on the farm due to the holiday period, and of course my two children have their own ideas about how the Christmas holidays should be spent.
Getting work done has meant plenty of late nights and early mornings and with a large wedding to cater for at the end of December, I lived in dread of getting the winter sickness bug. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that we’ve staggered into 2013 unscathed.
Cows and calves are now all housed and we’re about to start weaning and will dose everything for fluke in the next week.
The constant wet weather has meant our water meadows are flooded. In fact, the whole of the Avon valley is under water. This brings me to the top of my New Year’s wish list: can sense prevail and ensure that this government finally sets food security as a priority. Only then will it realise that profitable production leads to a well-managed and vibrant environment.
If environment secretary Owen Paterson is in need of guidance then he need look no further than Irish MEP Mairead McGuiness. At the Oxford Farming Conference she spoke with an unparalleled level of understanding of the challenges facing British agriculture. Maybe the industry as a whole could take a leaf out of the McGuiness view on Europe: “Only when you sit down and talk to one another do you resolve your differences”.
Minette Batters farms 120ha on a tenant farm on the Longford Estate in south Wiltshire. The farm carries 100 continental-bred suckler cows, with males finished as bull beef, some sold as stores and the others finished and sold to local butchers. The enterprise also includes a catering business and horse livery. She is NFU county chairwoman for Wiltshire and founder of Ladies in Beef.