Farmer Focus Livestock: Charlie Armstrong finds there’s no subsidy for training

This month has been full of miracles.



Firstly our Bluefaced tups are out and doing well and ewes are fit and are holding their own in these atrocious wet conditions.


We weren’t so lucky when Northumbria Water had a major burst recently, which was a worrying time with nearly 900 housed cattle and no water. The problem was overcome by everyone at home as I was in Hanover at Agritechnica.


If I could find a book entitled Idiots’ Guide to Travel I would buy five and give them to my friends from Durham. We travelled to Hanover and they thought the exchange rate was great as it was one euro to one pound. But they soon realised that food and the show tickets were expensive. Getting lost on our return trip in Paris was the last straw and making it home was a miracle.


It appears VOSA is out in force, ourselves being stopped with a new tractor and borrowed trailer. Everything was in order apart from the brakes that needed adjusting on the trailer.


Store lambs are grazing away on stubble turnips and kale, but after three weeks on this they’re putting on fat, which isn’t ideal as we don’t want to sell them until spring.


We’ve employed full-time, good, young lad from Alnwick. After a short phone call to One North East and Business Link a lady was dispatched to discuss an apprenticeship shepherd scheme. It appears there are apprenticeships but no wage subsidy. Stockmen are already hard to find and issuing them with ATV tests, Forklift tests etc won’t make them stockmen. If these skills aren’t passed down they could be lost forever.