FARMER FOCUS: You can’t buy common sense

Sale season is under way and with prices slightly down on last year at, dare I say it, more of a realistic level, hopefully it will help those having to replace high numbers of sheep after last spring.

It has also suited us, as we are in the process of expanding our flock to twice its current size before next lambing.

With ewes grouped ready for tupping, tailing completed and the last of lambs shorn, it has allowed time to catch up with fencing, maintenance and alterations around the handling system. With grass continuing to grow into late September, it’s looking hopeful the cattle will remain out for some time yet and ewes will have better conditions for tupping.

I recently enjoyed reading FW columnists Ian Pigott and Stephen Carr talking about their inductions into farming. I’ve always been of the opinion farmers have a dedication and an understanding of their work that is passed down from generation to generation, much of this during childhood years around the farm. These are things that cannot be taught from a book, and while education now plays a major role in modern agriculture, the one thing it fails to teach is common sense.

The best way to learn this is through experience, something anyone considering a career in agriculture should seek to gain as much of as possible before setting out to farm in their own right. There are more opportunities, advice and funding available to new entrants than ever before, but they could all be wasted if entrants do not have sufficient experience to help guide them through tougher times. As the next generation of farmers, one of the most important things we must do is learn from the current and previous incumbents, and not presume our new ideas are better just because they are new.

By the time you read this we will be recovering from our first experience of what is billed as the best night in the farming calender, the Farmers Weekly Awards. I’m sure all the new friends we meet will make the hangover worthwhile.

Tom Jones lives on a 110ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally

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