James Read found 2012 hard on man and beast

I would like to sum 2012 up in four words – “up to the guts”. It’s a bad state of affairs when your sheep look just as depressed as you do as you walk across the fields. I am so pleased we have moved on to Mules and off Scotch Half-breds, as the Mules tread so much lighter on saturated ground.

My good friend and mentor Thomas Longton once said to me, while helping me fill in the registration forms for Jess’ pups, “don’t call that bitch pup after your wife, you will regret it”. Last week my wife and I were rushing off to a trial. I put the dogs in the car boot, ran into the house and shouted up the stairs to my other half: “That’ll do, Sally (that’ll do is a recall command) without realising what I’d said. A family pack of Andrex came hurtling in my direction.

The nursery trials got under way and I was thrilled to bits with my young dog Tom, who managed a fourth prize in his second ever trial.

After our RPA inspection we had a follow-up visit from a thoroughly nice retired farmer trying to persuade us on behalf of DEFRA to put more wild bird cover down. I cannot quite grasp the sense in targeting farmers such as myself and my father, as well as many other farmers who are huge conservationists. Surely this taxpayer money could be directed somewhere else, for example to provide our troops in Afghanistan with some better equipment.

James Read farms at Louth on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds in partnership with his father. They farm 400ha of mainly arable land and are the main contractors on 700ha. He runs 200 breeding sheep and a pack of working/trialling sheepdogs.

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