Archive Article: 2002/06/21 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

A market for the milk from the 25 dairy farms scattered across the Orkney islands has been secured with the opening of a new £5m creamery.

Princess Anne officially opened the custom-built facility, which will allow the Orkney Cheese Company, which has produced Orkney Cheddar since the end of the Second World War, to meet new waste management and food hygiene regulations.

Dairy farmers, the local council and cheese merchant A McLelland and Son are all shareholders in the business, which uses traditional methods to produce 1500t a year of cheese which is sold at a premium to supermarkets and grocers throughout Britain.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Struggling to produce 10t/ha wheat? You need help from the 15 Tonne Club. With yield the key driver of profits merchant Grainfarmers is working with CPB Twyford, Terra Nitrogen and Bayer to help growers make the most of variety-specific input advice. "The national average wheat yield is 8.24t/ha, but crops should have the potential to do 15t/ha, which is nearly double," says Grainfarmers Tim Pollock (right). So far 50 pilot farms are managing 100ha of wheat each, according to group advice. If successful the initiative could lead to on-farm advice next season.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Inside in June… In-calf heifers have been housed to avoid excess poaching of swards after the recent heavy rain, says West Sussex producer Pete Dutton. Woodwards Farm, near Haywards Heath, is on heavy land which must be treated carefully when wet, says Mr Dutton. Milking cows have also been housed, while young heifers can remain outside as they cause less damage to fields, he adds.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Shopping

FOR many Royal Show visitors the Berkley Square shopping area is one of the top priorities. With more than 300 stands selling handcrafted goods it offers something for everyone, with products ranging from jewellery and clothing to paintings, plus toys, furniture for the home or garden and a wide range of accessories.

Time to relax

FINDING an opportunity to relax at the Royal Show is easy. The Country Kitchen area (grid ref E13) includes a bandstand with a full programme of music and entertainment throughout the show, and there is also a marquee nearby.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

You deserve an award for campaign

Your School Milk Matters campaign is being viewed as the most significant step taken towards the return of school milk by the farming industry since the ABN initiative five years ago. We think you ought to get an industry award for home market development.

Stephanie Spiers

Milk For Schools. stephanie-spiers@milkforschools.org.uk

Bring back the good old days

My reaction to watching TV news film of Bobby Waughs pig unit, after he was found guilty of not reporting foot-and-mouth, was disgust at the conditions in which the animals were kept and the filth they were fed. After seeing cutlery in the feed troughs, it is obvious where the F&M virus came from – the swill collected from restaurants and a nearby army camp.

It is typical MOD policy to buy cheap, imported meat from goodness knows where rather than support UK agriculture and feed our boys some of the best food in the world. Government policy for years has been buy cheap and sell dear. The trouble is, with no industry left we have not got anything to sell.

The working public are all to blame with their higher wages, fewer working hours, flash houses, cars and holidays. They do not understanding the running of the countryside. With unbelievably high levels of debt it seems Great Britain is living on borrowed time. We use borrowed money and can no longer compete in world markets.

Oh for the good old days, when people took pride in their work. Then, they were happy and avoided getting up to their eyeballs in debt just to be better than the man next door. That was when Great Britain was great.

C C Meatyard

Marelands Dairy Farm, Bentley, Farnham, Surrey.

Police need reforming, too

Reading South-East Focus (News, June 7) reminds those of us who live and work in the countryside that crime is no longer a threat, it is a harsh and occasionally violent fact of life.

Successive governments have shown a disinclination to value the countryside and its occupants, or even its way of life. The present governments approach rooted in the fashions and prejudices of "Islington" needs no illustration. As if this were not worrying enough, the prize for crassness has to be awarded to Malcolm Scott of the Sussex Police for his comments arrived at after 22 years "fighting rural crime" in Sussex.

The fact that he seriously thinks the countys farmers and landowners will observe and record every innocent motorist who stops in lay-bys or at the side of the road and pass that information on to Sussex Police to assemble a database of possible "evidence" gives me the impression that he has perhaps never spoken to any of them.

If the problem were not so serious it would be laughable. We know our societys morality has something of a question mark hanging over it and we also know the criminal justice system needs reform. But I would further suggest that our police and policing policy leaves much to be desired.

Anthony Grantham

Old Barn House, West End Lane, Henfield, West Sussex.

Modulation may be made to work

I read with interest your article on the failure of French modulation (News, May 31). The reason French farm minister Herve Gaymard has abandoned their modulation programme is that it was unfair and too complicated.

The French adopted a confusing double-franchise criterion with labour adjustment. So there is no surprise that most farmers did not join due to the overwhelming quantity of paperwork and complex requirements for qualification. Everyone has an opinion on whether modulation could work.

RICS realised that no one had any facts to go on, so in February of this year commissioned an independent report on the impact of modulation in the UK. The key issue at the moment is simplicity. Modulation could work, provided the system avoids being over complex and bureaucratic.

I know that many of our members are constantly inundated with copious quantities of paperwork. Farmers these days do more administration than farming. So I would be loath to recommend a policy that would add to that burden. However, the findings of our research may prove that modulation does not have to be that way.

RICS will be publishing the results of its modulation research at this years Royal Show on July 2.

William Tew

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London.

Farming is now a real struggle

Sean Rickard lives in a different world to practical farmers. His is the theoretical world of Cranfield University with a satisfactory salary and no need for nightmares about diversification.

In the agricultural world, we have produced everything for the past 60 years as successive farm ministers, beginning with Tom Williams, demanded. Continental farmers have received a 15% rise in subsidies in 2001, but our government wants the EU to cut subsidies throughout the EU. Our subsidies have been reduced by 18% in 2001. More cuts came this year when the governments decision not to apply for agri-aid cost our farmers millions. In fact, we are helping to subsidise some of the food imports.

Does anyone believe France, Germany, Italy and Greece and others will stop subsidising their farmers? They are the backbone of the countryside and there would be riots first.

Most of us here would prefer a fair price without subsidy, but this government is buying in low priced food irrespective of quality. Low priced food is not cheap because it must be produced by people on a subsistence level.

The middlemen and supermarkets will see they have a good profit margin irrespective of the producer price. Some control is necessary. The Milk Marketing Board may not have been perfect, but it prevented the big buyers killing producers. The sooner we have more farmer-owned companies, with size and money, the better because that will give farmers bargaining power.

Does anyone know how the government plans to pay farmers "environmentally" in place of production? It looks as though France and Portugal have already scrapped the idea of modulation as unworkable. And the US is paying its farmers even more subsidies.

P &#42 Finlay

Woolcombes, Newton Poppleford, Sidmouth, Devon.

Time to cull economists?

We have too many economists. They are inefficient, unproductive, a drain on resources, and should be phased out. Why not start with Sean Rickard?

Martin R Casswell

Springthorpe Grange, Gainsborough, Lincs.

UK should farm like NZ

New Zealand agriculture offers many opportunities for new entrants to farming. Farmers are willing to take on individuals with no experience and train them. In fact, it is not uncommon for new entrants to be managing dairy herds or even share farming within two years of starting out with no experience. This input of forward thinking, enthusiastic young individuals undoubtedly contributes to the success of NZ agriculture.

Sadly, UK agriculture is too narrow-minded to encourage such enterprise. Graduates such as myself find it difficult to enter and progress in the industry because their level of experience is not deemed enough, and most businesses are unwilling to offer training. With this attitude is it any wonder that British agriculture is in dire straits? Our farmers are ageing yet research suggests that the youngest managers are the most successful.

If farms are to survive they must be willing to take on, train and crucially, listen to enthusiastic young entrants. Poor incomes are not the only reason for a lack of young entrants. Young people become disillusioned with farming because farmers are not willing to pass over responsibility or listen to new ideas.

The time has come to shed off the age-old attitude of "Ive been farming all my life, I know what works best". We should start involving new entrants in the future of our industry.

Thomas Malleson

University of Nottingham. Tmalleson@onetel.net.uk

CAP invented by the Nazis

At first, I favoured the European project, but the CAP was always a puzzle. How could six countries agree a system which was a nightmare of officialdom and brought high costs for consumers and taxpayers?

The member states simply adopted the system devised by the Nazis when they created their European Economic Community. That project was launched on June 25, 1940, by Reichs economy minister, Walther Funk.

Although the Nazis promoted entrepreneurial activity, they believed in state leadership of the economy. Mr Funk praised a speech by Reich farmers leader, R Walther Darre, given in January 1939 which dealt with the market order of National Socialist agrarian policy as pacemaker for a new order in foreign trade.

Mr Funk said: "Continental Europe must receive first loyalty in all economic transactions." It was that principle which stopped our firm using New Zealand milk powder in calf foods from 1973.

He also said the trading area would enjoy all the advantages of a state-controlled market. "The farmer in Romania, the timber merchant in Norway, the market gardener in Holland and the Danish poultry breeder will need to have no concern that they can dispose of their produce or have it left on their hands.

"They also need not worry that the price will fairly reward their efforts. They will know that production and sales prospects are founded and secured by inter-state treaties and that there is no more room for speculators or crises."

That was the system adopted for those products, covered by CAP, when the European Economic Community was resurrected in 1957. Surely that is more than coincidence? We have been saddled with the wretched system ever since and changes have increased the bureaucratic burden.

Edward Spalton

Hopcroft, Sutton Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire.

Countryside stress relief

It takes considerable money to own, maintain and run a family car on British roads. Despite the high costs of fuel and roadworks because of all the pressures in life, like stress at work, families are more keen than ever to get in their cars and go somewhere to get away from home. As I find driving today stressful, I prefer to cycle and walk as much as I can in the British countryside. The pleasure is tremendous and I can be content being among nature.

Jim Braid

Croft House, Bridgend, Perth.

DEFRA half the problem

Lord Walsinghams letter (June 7) highlights the correct aetiological needle in the causal haystack of BSE origins. But thats only half the battle when considering the additional task of getting DEFRA to accept the validity of these findings.

For years MAFF/DEFRA scientific group has consumed public funds to discredit and suppress emerging research findings which dissent from their scrapie hypothesis on the origins of TSE.

My request for data revealed that MAFF officials and the British Agrochemical Association had jointly designed a public funded research project that was tailored to discredit my phosmet-BSE theory. The public should be expected to fund only impartial scientific investigations that further the best interests of human and environmental well-being – not the commercial interests of the agrochemical industry.

My data request also revealed how Michael Meachers officials tried to sabotage their ministers repeated requests to meet me to discuss the OP-BSE theory.

To appease mounting public interest in the publication/broadcasting of my self-funded research findings, Baroness Hayman made a seemingly authentic invite for me to submit a proposal to DEFRA for funding my research.

After sitting on my proposal for over a year, DEFRA rejected it after the publicity had waned. Its rebuff was based on irrational, unscientific and irrelevant reviewer comments.

Until the experts dispel their mindset myth on the meat and bone origins of TSEs and accept a causal role of metals and oxidative stress, then BSE will continue to make surprise attacks in countries around the world. Countries like Israel, Finland, and Japan where no plausible meat and bone origin can be identified.

Mark Purdey

High Barn Farm, Elworthy, Taunton, Somerset.

Cost challenge harms values

It was good to see Great British farmers competing to achieve the lowest wheat costs (Arable, May 31). But do such competitions undermine cereal prices if the winning figures become the benchmark price paid by the merchant?

Complaining that you cannot survive at those prices could invite claims that you are inefficient and should leave the industry. The competition should be: How much does it cost to produce a quality sample containing all the vital nutrients, vitamins and trace elements for a healthy diet for man and beast? Not an element deficient and low nutrient bin filler that nobody wants to buy.

S &#42 Swaine

Friesland Farm, Huntingdon Road, Conington, Cambridge, Cambs.

RSPCA calls for duty of care

Following David Richardsons comments (May 10), I would like to stress that the RSPCA has at no point proposed that the government adopts a bill of rights for animals. Instead, we have called for a duty of care to help reduce suffering experienced by domestic and captive animals.

Our proposals in respect of farm animals, are based on the five freedoms, which were first set out by the government-established Brambell Committee in 1964. Those include: Freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.

By adopting this duty of care all animal owners would have a legal responsibility to ensure that animals have adequate food and water, appropriate shelter and access to proper veterinary treatment when needed. Animal owners would also be required to provide them with room to express normal behaviour and to avoid mental suffering and distress.

Of the 1977 cases prosecuted under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act last year, 1761 (89%) were classified as basic neglect charges. The RSPCA is calling on the government to update this century-old law, to enable us to act sooner in the prevention of cruelty bred of ignorance, through education and legislation, and ensure people take responsibility for the proper care of their animals in the future.

Ann Grain

Head of Press RSPCA, Southwater, Horsham, Sussex.

Nuclear threat to world trade

India and Pakistan at each others throats. An American allegedly threatened to let off a dirty bomb in the US. Terrorists are apprehended in North Africa. Iraq is trying to build a nuclear device. And to complete this picture of pessimism just who are disaffected Russians selling bomb technology to, and who has access to other weapons of mass destruction?

While India and Pakistan appear to be pulling back from the brink of the most dangerous stand-off since Cuba 40 years ago, how long will it be before someone sets something off?

But what will the outcome be? One part of a probable scenario is the complete shut down of all international trade in food. That would include staple foods such as wheat, maize and rice. Could British agriculture cope with such a scenario?

This letter is not the product of late night bar talk. It is the condensed thoughts of a group of academics with considerable experience in a range of subjects, scientific and humanitarian, fortified by nothing stronger than pots of coffee and camomile tea.

Roger Thomas

Knighton, Powys.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Big farm subsidy cap sets alarm bells ringing

Attempts by Brussels to cap subsidies to larger farmers are as misguided as they are alarming.

Recent leaks suggest the commission plans to set a maximum payment of k300,000 (£192,000) a farm as part of its mid-term review of Agenda 2000.

Combined with compulsory modulation, such action would be a disaster. It would discriminate against large-scale UK producers, the one group of farmers who have a chance of surviving the current income crisis.

Talks start in Brussels next month. If ever British farmers needed a battling minister to press their case and fend off these ill-conceived proposals it is now.

No doubt we will probably have to rely on the French and Germans to fight our corner for us – again.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Butchers teamwork flies flag for UK beef

Just as team work achieves results in World Cup football, so it is with farming.

Take, for example, the teamwork kicked off by one Devon-based master butcher.

He is flying the flag for British beef by putting locally produced, carefully butchered, quality beef on the menus of the areas catering establishments. Such initiatives deserve to score.

It shows there are butchers and chefs out there keen to promote our product. And when its produced and cooked to the highest standard, people are sure to come back for more. Now that really is a good result.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Somerset-based Cannington Grain Store, Britains second-oldest grain co-op, celebrated its 25th anniversary this week. Still run by the same manager, Ted Bird (left), the co-ops throughput has grown from 5500t to peak at 42,500t. Co-op chairman David Jeanes (right) says the co-op is in a sound financial position and will be totally owned by its 270 members within two years. Mr Bird was presented with a long-service award by NFU regional director Anthony Gibson.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Watch copper does not become a poison

How much copper are your cows getting? A little in the cake, a mineral lick in the field and perhaps a bolus?

After all, it is better that cows have more than enough minerals rather than go short – or is it? Recent studies by the Vet Lab Agency show the incidence of copper poisoning in dairy cows has risen sharply over the past three years.

So it pays to check how much your cows are getting and whether their intake matches their need. It could save money on supplementation costs and avoid unnecessary casualties.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Tractor sales keep on chugging along

Its a mystery. Tractor sales continue to flourish, but no one knows why.

Despite low commodity prices and falling incomes, there is no denying the optimism among some farmers and in the machinery industry.

Sales so far this year are 45% up on last year. The big question is will sales continue at the same level for the rest of the year? On current form, most makers could do worse than consult a crystal ball. There seems to be no more reliable method of making sense of the fickle machinery market.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Planner contestants chart a tricky course

Guiding your farm through the rocky waters of early 21st century agriculture is not a job for the faint-hearted.

So spare a thought for the six teams or individuals competing for the finals of the Institute of Agricultural Managements annual Farm Planner of the Year competition in conjunction with farmers weekly.

All are students with modest experience of the practical side of running a farm business. Yet they have to produce a five-year farm development plan for a case-study farm of the quality that bank managers would expect if you were applying for a big loan.

The fact that winners always come up with good, practical plans shows the strength of our farm management training.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Correction

The dry cow therapy used in the study at Bristol University was the penicillin-based product Leo Red, not as stated last week.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Just how much is your advice costing?

How much does your agronomy advice cost?

If you pay an agronomist an area rate the answer should be obvious. But is the advice on product choice and rate accurate?

The same question applies if you use a distributor who bundles together the price of advice and product. Do you know where agrochemical cost stops and the price of advice starts? Even those managing their own agronomy find it tricky to cost the time invested in field walking and agronomy training. And can they be confident in their decisions?

Clearly, there are no definitive answers. But comparing input costs and output results with similar farms is vital. Only then can you be confident you are getting a competitive deal.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Optimistic with Option in the Lloyds TSB Farmer Group Challenge: Cereals 2002 hosts Tony, James and Mark Ireland (left to right) reckon their plots will out-yield the opposition, including Sleaford Farmers, represented here by Michael Tonge (right). But will it make the biggest margin/t? Only time will tell… but unlike many of the teams the Irelands already have half sold and a premium locked in on the lot, subject to quality.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Industry endorsement for the new-look recommended list system came from maltster John MacDonald of Coors Brewers (right) and miller George Mason of Heygates. A greater focus on end use and better integration of industry tests into the recommendation process means the changes made by the HGCAs Crop Evaluation Limited subsidiary should ensure varieties are now only listed if they have real market potential. "With profits so squeezed it is important farmers grow what the market wants," stresses Mr Mason.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

This new test kit can confirm barley mild mosaic virus in cereals in minutes, says Chris Danks of York-based Central Science Laboratory. A barley yellow mosaic version is expected shortly. Developed with HGCA funding, the new kits use the same antibody technology as home pregnancy test kits. Two drops of a test solution are added to plant sap and after two or three minutes a barcode result is shown. Kits to check for mycotoxins and storage mites in grain are also planned.

Coming to a farm near you? Super-nettle clones from Austria could be a profitable cotton-like, fibre-producing crop for UK farmers, says CSLs Melvyn Askew.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Lee Threapleton has every beer drinkers dream job – he is head taster at Coors Brewers, formerly Bass Brewing, Burton-on-Trent. Understanding quality specifications and knowing what they mean in the brewing process is essential, he says. "Once growers accept our requirements, they become better at meeting them."

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

New pre-harvest herbicide Touchdown Quattro includes patented adjuvant System 4 to boost glyphosate penetration and translocation into plants, says Syngenta. That helps combat the antagonistic effects of calcium and magnesium ions in some water sources, says the firms Iain Hamilton. "It also increases spray droplet retention on the leaf, which improves weed contact, and uptake of the herbicide into the leaf cuticle is better." Rates as low as 1 litre/ha can be used to desiccate cereals. Cultivation interval is shortened to five days.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Its a long plough, even for a Gregoire Besson plough. In fact it has a total of 17 furrows and was used to create a new 24 hour ploughing record earlier this year on some very light ground and very large fields at Sanguinet, Bordeaux. The Massey Ferguson 8280 tractor is not all that it seems either. Normally rated at 288hp, engineers boosted output to 387hp for the record attempt which achieved 2251.376 ha (620 acres) in the allotted period.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

The Horsch/Simba Pronto drill is the first drill to be developed as a joint operation by the two companies. The drill has a Horsch-built trailed seed hopper and seed metering system to which a Simba cultivator drill is attached via a three-point linkage. Hopper capacity is 2500 litres, which can be split to accommodate both seed and fertiliser. Simbas input draws on the companys knowledge and experience of cultivator manufacture. On the model displayed at the Cereals event, the unit was equipped with two rows of adjustable tines followed by the rubber Optico rolls – which control operating depth – and finally by the disc coulters, through which the seed is drilled.

Available in working widths of 3m rigid, and 4m and 6m folding, price of the 4m version is £30,000.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

ITS a Sunday afternoon and I need a jumper on because its quite cold. This time last week I was planting yellow French marigolds in the cider press in a cossie top enjoying the brilliant sunshine on my pale (but interesting) skin.

The ups and downs of the weather are driving Tim nuts; he has the sprayer, the spinner and the mower all lined up and ready to go but cannot decide which to jump on first. The weathermen forecast rain yesterday and it stayed fine, should he mow today? No, here comes the rain.

Yesterday, was St Médards Day, our equivalent of St Swithins, (not the same date however, it is Jun 8 in France and Jul 15 in the UK), but the story goes that if it rains on St Médards Day, we have 40 days of rain, unless it is fine three days later on St Barnabés Day (Jun 11), as that cancels it out. Well, time will tell if all that is true, or just an old wives tale.

We are noticing more and more Brits abroad, particularly looking for second homes to buy in the area. GB registration cars are often parked outside the local estate agents, and while we were doing the bathroom we were always rubbing shoulders with other native English speakers in the bricomarché (DIY shop).

Our almost neighbours on the way to town have a selection of gîtes with tennis courts and swimming pool. When they came out to open everything up for the season, they were horrified to find their pool greened over with algae, it had to be emptied and cleaned, and in a hurry with a full complement of holiday-makers due to arrive.

Unfortunately, it isnt simply a question of turning the tap on. After hasty phone calls the waterboard said they required 14 days prior notice before drawing so much water off the towns supply, and the firemen couldnt help. Quick call to Tim, has he got any ideas? Images of Bob the Builder come to mind.

"Tim the Tractor, hes your man, can he do it? Yes, he can. Bright green wellies on his feet, tows the tanker up the street!"

Excited children in bathing suits, seeing the tractor and bowser arrive, thought the afternoon was made up as the water was pumped into the pool, but we all got a shock when the 5000 litres of our natural spring water left just enough to paddle in. It took 15 tanker loads to do the job. It was an odd weekend one way and another, although the weather was lovely, and at the end of a long day Tim told me to fetch a bottle of wine and two glasses and to get into the car. He drove me, and two dogs, up through the wood to a spot where the sun, as it goes down, shines through the trees, and we sat for an hour peacefully drinking and reflecting on – well, life!

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Members of the Devon Farms Accommodation Group have been working hard to encourage tourists back after the "devastating" effects of foot-and-mouth. Here, 98-year-old Joyce Lane – involved in farming all her life – is seen with Verity Bruce at a recent Cream Tea Day held at Hele Payne Farm, Exeter. It was one of a number of events staged by the group, a co-operative of over 100 working farming families providing accommodation across the county.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

Hot air balloons

Brightly painted hot air balloons have become established as one of the traditional attractions at the Royal Show. This year up to 12 of them are scheduled to take off each day from the Grand Ring – but nobody is quite sure where they will land.

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Archive Article: 2002/06/21

21 June 2002

The Hazel Pot beetle, heading towards extinction after 50 years of decline, could make a comeback thanks to pioneering work by The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, English Nature and the University of Leeds. The first generation of adults born in the wild have emerged two years after captive-bred beetles were introduced to a new site. "Its the first time that a rare beetle has successfully been re-established as part of a conservation project in Britain," says Dave Bromwich of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The beetles, which now survive in just three locations, need hot, sunny and sheltered conditions. And despite its name, they also appear to prefer young birch saplings to hazel!

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