Farmer Focus: I wish I had a crystal ball as costs rise

In the 1970s, Jonny Nash sang: “There are more questions than answers, the more I find out the less I know.”

Everyone has an opinion on the current madness. I feel all we can do is plan as best we can, given the information today. Trying to predict this autumn’s situation is proper crystal ball stuff.

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
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The prices for inputs do seem to exhibit a lot of profiteering, as well as the higher costs associated with manufacturing, distribution and so on.

See also: Farmers feeling pressure as Ukraine war sends costs soaring

As I write (28 March) we have about 200 ewes still in. There are only about 60 to lamb, with the rest waiting to go to the rented ground.

I cannot feed there if the grass runs out because of a major access problem, so we need good cover.

This is another difficulty this year.

The road (B4069) between us and the rented land is closed because it’s being annihilated by subsidence. Look up “Lyneham Banks Road” – it is spectacular, with estimates of a year to fix.

I’m told challenges are always there to overcome and learn from. But sometimes, especially when you’re tired, there is a temptation to feel a little self-pity. 

Our lambing assistant only lasted one day. Fortunately, an urgent advert on the Farming Forum brought a good chap in for 16 days.

We had some glorious weather, with lots of big lambs out in the fields. We even had the help of Farmers Weekly’s Michael Priestley one evening. 

We have an extremely labour-intensive system, but we are trying to do the best for the ewes and lambs, rightly or wrongly. We lamb inside, bucketing a maize, grass silage and soya ration to ewes.

Perhaps we should have a film crew here to see how most farmers really care for their animals.

This is not newsworthy, I know, but it would help get over some messages to the public. I think this is important, given that they are going to have to pay more for their food, or simply not have it.

The priority now is to get the bulls ready for Welshpool (30 April) and Worcester (7 May).