I was delighted to be asked to update readers on changes at The Farm, Longnor since my Farmer Focus innings about 10 years ago.
As well no longer looking like my 2003 Nuffield business card mugshot, there have been many new directions and growth with a new dairy farm 18 miles from base.
I kept copies of all my previous articles which had titles such as; ‘Training high on the agenda’, ‘My duck was champion’ and ‘Nowt doing but TB, and my favourite, ‘What a drop kick’ referring to Jonny Wilkinson back in 2003.
We have witnessed markets becoming ever more global with our OMSCo-branded Kingdom organic cheddar cheese appearing on shelves in Costco in the US and infant formula fulfilling the rising demand in Asia.
The new farm at Webscott with Andy and Lianne at the helm, ably assisted by Rebecca, has been challenging with 25% less grass grown from May to August 2018, but it looks in better shape now.
The Woodland Trust are working with us to research the benefits of planting trees on dairy farms as agroforestry, which appears on The Archers, begins to gain interest, not only for shelter but medicinal benefits and, if the trees blow over in the storms, heating the house.
One of our greatest achievements is working with more than 25 Harper Adams, Reaseheath and Walford students. All have introduced us to new ideas, taken some nurturing to appreciate how important attention to detail is and learned to understand why we still maintain a traditional tea-break discussion.
Alongside auto heat detection, CCTV-monitoring calving and animal-weighing systems, technology is everywhere. We are very happy to have a great team at home with Shaun, Taylor, student Ed and Dad, who still enjoys finishing beef cattle for Waitrose in the same way as he has done for years.
I sit on four business boards, farming and non-farming, and the future for each requires a painless Brexit, which is clearly communicated and allows for collaboration so there is confidence in any new trade deals that arise.
Happy Christmas to one and all and I look forward to all that 2019 brings. Please follow me on twitter @clovermad.
Tim and Louise Downes farm in partnership with Tim’s parents in Shropshire across 222-owned hectares and 161 contract hectares with two spring-calving grass-based dairy herds totaling 480 cows produce milk for OMSCo in their USDA certified organic pool. Organic beef is sold to Waitrose. Tim is a Trehane Nuffield scholar and keen Shropshire Adventure rower.