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Gordon and Mary Capstick

5 July 2002

Gordon and Mary Capstick

Gordon and Mary Capstick

farm 230ha (569 acres), at

Milnthorpe in south Cumbria.

Stocking is 100 suckler

cows, with calves finished

alongside 100 purchased

stores, and 1200 Mule ewes

producing prime lambs.

About 10ha (25 acres) of

barley and 6ha (14 acres) of

soft fruit are also grown.

IM WRITING this sitting in the "pick your own" pay box with the wind whistling up the field and people picking strawberries in their top coats. So much for summer.

Nearly all the early lambs have gone and while prices have not been sky high, I think they have been workable. Silage is made. Although this happened a week later than planned, we made it without rain or damage to the land.

As I write, we have 5ha (12 acres) of grass cut for hay and I hope we dont have to resort to big baling it for haylage. The job furthest behind is clipping, but with the weather as cold as it is, Im sure the old dears are glad of their jackets.

Clipping always seems to dry ewes milk up. Some shepherds tell me a ewe gives little at this time of year, but try telling those two big lambs that keep coming for a suck.

Grass seems to be disappearing fast and some of our pastures are so poached they will take some time to recover. For the first time in three years, coccidiosis in March born lambs has reared its head, despite putting coccidiostat buckets in fields. This is probably due to wet conditions, so we have had to dose lambs.

The 20-day standstill is still with the livestock industry. As we get closer to autumn trading, it is a worry to us. How can we buy tups and replacement sheep, while selling store cattle and cast sheep, all within a short time span. It seems nearly as bad as last year, although everyone tells us things are back to normal.

The government is certainly making us pay for its mistakes. When will Tony wake up? Are we going to have nothing left of Great Britain? Massey Ferguson has just announced the closure of its factory at Banner Lane, after making 3m tractors, with the loss of 1000 jobs. Im sure it will lead to many other businesses teetering on the edge. Thats the trouble when the country is run by lawyers and accountants. &#42

The pick your own season is well underway at Gordon Capsticks farm, but until recently pickers have been wearing winter coats.

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Gordon and Mary Capstick

21 December 2001

Gordon and Mary Capstick

Gordon and Mary Capstick

farm 230ha (569 acres), at

Milnthorpe in south Cumbria.

Stocking is 100 suckler

cows, with calves finished

alongside 100 purchased

stores, and 1200 Mule ewes

producing prime lambs.

About 10ha (25 acres) of

barley and 6ha (14 acres) of

soft fruit are also grown.

MY hope is that it is going to be Happy New Year. Let us think of nothing else and leave 2001 as a bad dream.

F&M got to within 10 miles on three sides of our farm and looking at stock became a daily ritual – every lame sheep got a second look. Now life has become a little more tolerable.

Obviously, bulls and tups did not have F&M on their minds earlier this year. Last week we had spring-calving cows and sheep scanned and every cow is in calf and only four sheep are empty. The first batch of early lambers scanned a lighter crop than usual at 177%.

We have entered some cattle as stores in to the digital livestock auction at Kendal. This is a whole new ball game. They have been photographed, so we will have to wait and see how it goes.

Is this the way forward? It seems to be one way of getting round the 20-day standstill, but it doesnt give you the same buzz as standing in the ring showing cattle with buyers all around you.

Lambs seem to have hit the £2/kg barrier. But I am hopeful they will go higher. Thank goodness we have seen a re-start of exports, which has brought more players on to the field. No matter what some critics say, we need exports to create more competition and give us a better return.

We have taken a deep breath and undone the purse strings a little, or was it a farm Christmas present? We have bought a new slurry tanker. The lads – Paul and David – have been scouring the papers for a second-hand one and went to see some. But they were either too old or badly abused, so we opted for new.

As this is my last Farmer Focus article for this year, I would like to thank all those readers who have contacted me in what has been a difficult time for us all. I have tried to approach serious matters with just a little bit of humour. Merry Christmas and a happier New Year from all at Park House.

Life is more tolerable for Gordon Capstick now F&M has receded and only four sheep have been scanned empty this winter.

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