Peter Walters manages a
162.7ha (402 acres) in
Hatherleigh Devon, which
is in organic conversion.
The farm is stocked with
100 pedigree Poll Dorsets,
90 Dorset X and 50 Mules.
It also supports 68 suckler
cows including 18 pedigree
WE have previously hired in bulls, but to minimise the risk of bringing in disease, I have now bought two Limousin and one Devon bull.
I have just had eight Devon heifers PDd. They had been running with one of the Limousin bulls and six are in-calf. The remaining two are now running with the Devon bull.
On the sheep front, the 90 Dorset-cross ewes have lambed, but Mules and pedigree Dorsets are still in full swing. It has been difficult to obtain a reliable delivery of organic sheep feed because it is only made to order.
And because I will not be using synthetic fertiliser, I need to make full use of our own farmyard manure. To this end, I have bought a used Kidd 1600 side discharge muck spreader which will spread manure more evenly than our rotor spreader.
The results of a soil test show, as expected, most of the farm will require lime. When weather permits I will have some of the farm spread with limestone, which is allowed under organic rules.
We have a Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreement covering most of the farm and are in our third year. At the beginning it seemed a daunting task, requiring some 8000m (8720 yards) of hedge coppicing, laying or bank restoration and 10,000m (10,940 yards) of fencing.
Luckily, I have found some excellent local people to help with this work part-time. Since the New Year, we have done 600m (656 yards) of hedge laying, 600m (656 yards) of coppicing and 1200m (1312 yards) of fencing.
I was very concerned when I heard President Blair is going to take charge of the National Health Service. When he took charge of foot-and-mouth, he brought in the dreaded contiguous cull. Beware – he may do the same to the NHS, but I suppose at least this would bring the waiting lists down.
Our neighbours stock have remained healthy, proving that the difficult battle to stop them from being slaughtered as contiguous animals was worthwhile. We must succeed in getting a public inquiry.
It is now a year since our stock was slaughtered and in memory to them we have planted a walnut tree at the end of the pyre site. *
Requiring 1200m (1312 yards) of fencing, Countryside Stewardship seemed a daunting task for Peter Walters, but locals have proved a valuable asset.