Farmer Focus: More time to spend with my sheep

It has got round to my favourite time of the year, not just for the amazing autumn colours, but time to slow down a gear as the hustle and bustle of the arable sector comes to a finale.

We were drilled up by the first week in October, just in time for my son Tom’s first birthday.

I can now spend a bit more time with my family and get back to my passions in life; my sheep and the dogs. It has been another testing year weather-wise and price-wise, with a wet harvest, bone dry back end and then the first few days of October it was like somebody turned the tap back on. It is also getting harder with these extremes in the weather to keep our contracting customers happy as the windows for work get even tighter.

I’ve still a few store lambs to shift but this doesn’t worry me too much as grass is plentiful. An old boy at a sheepdog trial said the other day “all this grass up and down the country, it’s nature’s way of getting ready for a bad winter.” I hope he is wrong. 

Ewe lambs have been bought for a similar price to last year. We have started going through the ewes, MOT-ing them before tupping. Mr T (David Thornally) came over the other morning to share some of his much appreciated wisdom as we sieved through the ewes checking teeth and udders. The phrase “long in the tooth” came up as David explained to young Low Cost (Luke) all the different sheep phrases to do with life in general.

Rob then piped up: “What about parting the wool? Luke knows that one.” It was one of those mid-morning chuckles between generations that lifts spirits and puts a smile on your face.

Tom got more toy tractors for his birthday than our local dealer has in stock, but I am pleased to say, after worrying whether he would be interested in the dogs, his first ever word was not Dada or Mama, but “Jess” – as my old bitch wandered into the back kitchen. 

James Read farms at Louth, Lincolnshire, in partnership with his father. They farm 400ha of mainly arable land along with 200 breeding sheep and a pack of working/trialling sheepdogs

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