Steve Morris

3 May 2002

Steve Morris

Steve Morris farms in the

Forest of Bowland, Lancs,

in partnership with his wife

Valerie. Over half of the

190ha (470-acre) LFA farm

is heather fell, with a

further 20ha (50 acres) of

rough grazing. It is stocked

with 50 dairy cows, 280

Lonk ewes, 100 half-breds

and 40 gimmer hoggs

EWES with singles are now on the fell after an enforced absence due to the terms of the stewardship agreement we signed last autumn.

The 4ha (10-acre) area where silage has been fed for the past 20 years is now fenced off and will not be grazed for at least five years and possibly 10, depending on the success of heather regeneration.

One stipulation of the agreement is that some fell must be burned each year. With ideal weather prevailing, the chance was taken to remove some of the oldest stemmy material. This was on the fells south side, which has the old Clitheroe/Longridge road running adjacent to it.

The estate gamekeeper, an experienced fell burner, made all the necessary arrangements and had a good team of beaters. But that did not stop every Tom, Dick and Harry who passed by that morning calling the fire brigade on their mobile phones. The result was not only the local tender turning out from Longridge, but also four tenders and a support unit arriving from Preston.

The last of the seasons finished hoggets have been fetching a reasonable trade, making up to £51 and averaging £45 a head. Many have been fattened at my in-laws. They farm at Ormskirk in south west Lancs, where they usually lamb up to 1000 ewes between Christmas and Easter.

But this year they were not able to buy their full complement of replacements and had surplus grazing available. In this arable and vegetable growing area, grazing is a loose term that takes in stubbles, grass and waste vegetables dumped by neighbours.

Mention has been made in the budget Press coverage about new fiscal arrangements for buying milk quota. Twice in the past five years we have bought milk quota and have been able to offset the expenditure against tax.

This is due to a particularly clever, but perfectly legitimate wheeze that our accountant has been using. This was one of the reasons we moved our business to him a few years ago and emphasises the value of an accountant who specialises in farming. &#42

When Steve Morris tried to do a spot of fell burning recently, helpful passers by made sure the fire brigades were summoned.

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