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
R RECENTLY I went to a foot-and-mouth task group meeting at our local council offices entitled Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
One of the several speakers in attendance questioned why producers were not taking up the free advice available. Producers replied that free advice does not pay bills and the advice from DEFRA was not to invest in stock to return to where you were when it was not a good place to be.
John Bainton, rural director of the north-east government office, was questioned on the wisdom of allowing sub-standard meat from countries with F&M into Britain. He said the government believed the country benefited from this trade overall, which surely ought to mean it should be responsible for the consequences. By the end of the meeting I felt that rather than seeing the light, I had actually lost the tunnel.
At Barningham, no stock moves in or out and we are beginning to wonder what the situation will be later in October if we cannot get tups back to ewes. There is talk about possible changes once we move to county-based restrictions, but we have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.
We have received an inquiry from one of our regular customers for store heifers from Shipley, who is hoping to begin restocking. Initial discussions with Leeds Disease Control are promising; they say they can organise a special licence for this purpose.
We are about to send our first batch of lambs away. These include the only single Texel cross weighing 58kg, built like a brick outhouse, and a few others over 40kg. There should be about 40 to go, along with some of the older Swaledale ewes which will have to make way for us probably having to keep our own Mule gimmer lambs.
Hopefully, the tunnel will soon be found again and the light not too far in the distance. One thing I have learned is once you are told what you want to hear, do not question it. Just take a name, a contact number and do it. *