Bill and Jonathan Metcalf
rent 89ha (220 acres) of
grassland, plus moorland
grazing, near Barnard Castle,
and own a further unit 12
miles away, both are
situated in the Less Favoured
Area of Teesdale. The farms
are stocked with 120
sucklers, including 20
pedigree Blonde dAquitaines,
and 1200 ewes with
FOLLOWING on from last months suckler breaking a leg, things have not improved. We took a young Blonde d Aquitaine bull to the Blonde 2000 show and sale at Carlisle. He had to arrive by 6pm the night before and was penned with another vendors bull so had to remain tied up overnight – in the past we have left our bulls loose.
The following morning we had a call to say our bull was distressed, followed by a request to shoot him after a vets inspection revealed he had broken his front leg.
Later that day, just after dark, we received a call saying some cattle had been hit on the A66 – the main trans-Pennine route – opposite a field where we have stock. When we arrived we found several heifers, not ours, in a yard next to our cows and managed to fasten them in a building for safety.
Two animals had been killed, one hit on each carriageway, luckily not by cars which often travel at high speeds at this point.
The following week we took some lambs to market and one managed to break a leg between being weighed and arriving in the ring seconds later. Hopefully this third broken leg will bring to an end our run of bad luck with fractures.
As well as all this I have been in the "doghouse" after leaving for a Blue Faced Leicester sale at Hawes at 7.30am one morning and not returning until 3am the next. This sale was described as being the highlight of the year by a friend, but by the time we had purchased two ewes the novelty had worn off and my wife was left wondering whether the invention of the telephone had reached Hawes.
We have just been told that our Countryside Stewardship application is likely to be accepted. However, considering we were told that to qualify we will not even be allowed to leave our moor sheep in an adjoining field overnight before bringing them down to clip, I wonder what we will be letting ourselves in for if we sign up. *
Breaking a leg may mean good luck in some circles, but Bill Metcalf (left) doesnt want to see any more of them after a run of very bad luck.