Farmer Focus Livestock: Brian Griffiths prepares for time away

The last couple of weeks have been dominated by plans to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and visiting our daughter, who is studying in Australia.

We have been selling fat lambs at an unprecedented rate. Each one sold will be one less worry for family and friends left holding the fort. The last 500 are split into two groups, some to feed now and 250 longer keepers.

All ewes have been docked and, with plenty of grass in front of them, should be ready to receive the rams on our return. Many hours spent foot-bathing have got their feet in reasonably good order, although I have no doubt several will be struck down with some debilitating lameness the minute my back is turned.

Fields adjacent to the buildings have been saved for the remaining fattening cattle, so they can walk indoors to be fed their dry rations, easily and safely.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of us taking over at Southcott. Looking back at the in-going valuation at Michaelmas 1984, I see store lambs were put at £35/head, suckler cows at £600 and barley at £90/tonne. The wool cheque in that first year all but covered our private drawings. We can hardly be accused of riding a tide of inflation.

Moving from the Welsh borders as I did, I struggled to come to terms with the traditional Devon field boundaries. A four-foot high earth bank topped with a beech hedge may well have proved impenetrable to the indigenous Closewools and Ruby Reds, but my type of stock viewed it as additional grazing.

Over the years Liz and I have purchased and erected more than a dozen miles of wire and posts, and now boast sheep-proof fences around almost every field.

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