Man’s best friend
“Springer” is a limited-edition fine art print of 250, all signed and numbered by the artist Graham Chambers, who specialises in traditional rural themes, especially dogs and Land Rovers.
“It would make a great present for a man – they are really difficult to buy for,” says Heather Hayward, who houses artists in the traditional buildings on the family farm in Bishop Burton on the Yorkshire Wolds.
“Having gone out of dairy cows and pigs, the heart went out of the farm. Our artists have helped us breathe life back into the traditional farm buildings while we carry on farming from modern buildings round the back,” she says.
Printed on canvas and measuring 360mm by 260mm, it costs £50.
www.grahamchambersart.com or 07967 193 586
‘Ere’s an idea…
Walking the dogs, at the stables, on the ski slopes – if your ears might get cold, then these Original Tweed Earwarmers by Timothy Foxx Clothing will keep you snug.
“They make a great fashion statement, are 100% British made and are the ideal stocking filler,” says Rosalie Eustace who runs the firm with her partner from a mixed farm in Buckinghamshire. “Our designs reflect our rural roots,” she says.
They’re available in a selection of tweed colours priced £23 (with the Union Jack, £28).
www.timothyfoxx.co.uk or phone 01296 423 399
Let your imagination take flight
From small “sparkbugs” costing £5 to 3ft wide butterflies at £125, oversized insect sculptures are part of the offering of hand-crafted metalwork from Roding Valley Forge in Leaden Roding, Essex.
The style of each product reflects the artistic direction of the founder, ex-farm worker Stuart Todd, who’s still heavily involved with the Essex Young Farmers movement. www.rvforge.co.uk or 07971 898 328
A treat for feet
A luxury that’s as soft as cashmere but very hard wearing. That’s how Worcester-based Sandra Morton describes alpaca fibre – which is what these unisex socks, perfect for lambing or shooting, are made from.
“I started the business in 2006 when my back and hip could not cope with handling heavy sheep and so I needed another job,” she says. “The idea came about when I could not find bed socks for my daughter for Christmas 2005. Defra suggested linking with another local farm business and I met a top alpaca breeder who had an interest in knitwear. I wore her socks for my January lambing and, for the first time in 25 years, my feet were warm at 3am. I’ve doubled turnover every year for the last five years and sell all over the world.”
Those too busy for domestic chores will be glad to hear that alpaca repels odour – so the socks can be worn for weeks without washing. A pair in a bespoke box cost £31.60.
www.perilla.co.uk or 01886 853 615
One for arable farmers and your non-farming friends – the chance to be a “shepherd for the day”, courtesy of Camilla and Roly Puzey who have 300 breeding ewes in Oxfordshire. A typical day may involve delivering your first lamb, working the sheepdog, selecting lambs for the market or even a trip to the butcher – or taking a walk round one of the many walks on the farm. Visitors are even sent home with a box of lamb! Prices vary, but are £150 for a couple.
www.camillaandroly.co.uk or 07776 393 072
For the budding driver
Little farmers of three and above can be even more like dad with this working pedal forklift.
Load up your pallet, use your forklift to pick it up, lift the tines by winding and off you go. The tines can be raised and lowered, the mast tilts, the seat is adjustable and the horn works.
The Big Forklift Truck, which measures 130cm long by 56cm wide by 105cm high, can lift up to 3kg, costs £179.99.
It’s sold by Adventure Toys, a firm based on a sheep and arable business at Smeaton in North Yorkshire. www.adventuretoys.co.uk or 01609 881 302
Home and away
It’s hard enough for farmers to find time to take a break – and even if you do there’s the problem of leaving the house empty and the pets unattended. From £40 +VAT a day, a “homesitter” will stay in a house while the owners are away. It makes an ideal present because it can allow people to have a much-deserved, worry-free break, says Mike Shepherd-Smith who had the idea for this nationwide homesitting service while in his farm office in 1980. He’s even offered to give Farmers Weekly readers a 10% discount on bookings received between now and the end of March 2012. www.homesitters.co.uk or telephone 01296 630 730.
Warm, soft and cosy
Knitting has been undergoing a renaissance lately so this hand-knitting kit for a hat and scarf using wool from the Wensleydale sheep would suit enthusiasts of any age.
It includes two balls of wool, one from the black and one a mix of black and white, plus lustrous washed fleece for fringing the scarf and, of course, instructions. “Warm soft and cosy – grown in England and spun in Yorkshire,” is how its described by the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop, which is based on a working farm at Garriston in North Yorks. The price is £14.80.
More details at firstname.lastname@example.org 01969 623 840.
A festive tipple
A couple of ideas from Biddenden Vineyards, Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard, established by the Barnes family in 1969.
Biddenden Sparkling White Wine 2004 (75cl, £19.37) is bottle fermented by the traditional method (a blend of Reichensteiner, Pinot Noir, Scheurebe & Ortega) while the Monks Delight (1litre, £4.51) is a Kentish cider blended with honey and spices – ideal for warming as a lighter alternative to mulled wine.
Starting with just one third of an acre, and having bottled the first wines in the early ’70s, the vineyard today has grown to 22 acres producing an average of 60-70,000 bottles of wine a year. www.biddendenvineyards.com or 01580 291 726
A handy idea
Not many businesses can say they were started in a farmhouse kitchen with just £40, but that’s how The Sedbergh Soap Company began – a diversification based in Cumbria. “I am not from farming stock but married a farmer in 2004,” explains Dorthe Pratt who launched it in 2007. “Having been introduced to the unique smell of sheep’s feet and silage near a hot Aga, one of the very first products I developed was ‘Farmer’s Hands’ to make sure that my husband would smell nice, even if the job didn’t.”
This award-winning soap is priced at £4.50 for a bar of 125gram. www.sedbergh-soap.co.ukor telephone 01539 620 967
Pig out on this beauty
A luxurious but practical gift the whole family can enjoy – provided Dad doesn’t get there first!
Winner of a double gold award from the Guild of Fine Food, this pork pie uses traditional rare-breed meat and comes from Fenton Fine Foods, a farm diversification at West Fenton Farm, Wooler, Northumberland.
It’s available in a range of sizes priced at £15 per kilo.
For more details, email email@example.com telephone 01668 216 216
How did we choose these gift ideas?
Thanks to everyone who sent us suggestions. Apologies if yours didn’t make the list – we were inundated. We chose gifts that we thought would appeal to members of farming families, but we also tried to showcase businesses where the founders have a strong agricultural connection. Also, see our “Countdown to Christmas” pages in the Classified section.