Sheep farming crisis.

We’ve just returned from our annual visit to the Royal Welsh Show where Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he is going to reduce red tape for farmers which is great news following our recent sheep inspection. All sheep were counted, tags checked and paperwork examined in detail so stress levels were high but following a five hour inspection, we passed with flying colours. A week later we were informed that an inspector was coming to inspect the inspector who did the inspection. When he arrived I asked (tongue in cheek) if there was going to be another inspection to inspect him, I was told that it was possible from Europe. So yes Mr. Cameron, I think it’s a cracking idea!

Meeting the Royal Welsh Goat.

Meeting the Royal Welsh Goat.

We recently heard that Tesco have taken another shipment of New Zealand lamb when our lamb is at peak season. At the time of writing this blog, with our lamb prices at rock bottom, we are still awaiting a response from Tesco regarding it’s lamb sourcing policy. Explaining the situation on social media resulted in an overwhelming positive response from the public, reaching over 100,000 people. We really appreciate the support, thank you. At the end of the day, the consumer has the power to make change through informed choices. Showcasing our produce is what shows like the Royal Welsh do well and supermarkets need to follow suit with produce labelled and displayed effectively to aid customer choices.

Public support

Public support

Courses on the farm are very popular and we’ve recently added team building days to the list. Last month we had members of the armed forces rounding up sheep, shearing, wool rolling, spinning and sampling our home produced cider. A great day was had by all…..hic!

No sexism here, whilst the girls were shearing….

No sexism here, whilst the girls were shearing….

With no holiday planned for this year, I’ve put up the tent by the river and escape to it whenever time allows. I was joined by this lovely couple last week. Wine cooling in the river, cooking on an open fire and noisy otters joining us in the evening, it really is idyllic.

Kingfishers chilling by the river

Kingfishers chilling by the river

On a final note I would like to congratulate son Sam and his team mates who are now the junior Welsh tug-of-war champions. They will travel to Ireland in September to represent Wales in the world championships. Good luck lads!

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Kennel Club, Kingfishers and kids!

Following a slow start to the lambing season, the new moon brought in the Chinese year of the sheep in style, with lambs popping out everywhere just in time for our lambing courses.

There were plenty of skinning techniques, adoptions, stomach tubings and mal-presentations to sort out. You can learn some aspects in the classroom, but nothing beats real hands-on experience. Well done to all our lambing graduates, it’s been a busy season! We’ve finally finished lambing with a total of 1350 lambs.

lambingemma

Another great educational resource is television and in March I swapped amniotic-fluid-covered overalls for clean clothes and a hotel room for a four-day lambing break, filming at Crufts.

What a motley crew!

What a motley crew!

Covering a different canine topic each night, Friday’s film helped launch a new initiative from the NFU and The Kennel Club who have teamed up to produce a sign (to be put up around public footpaths) encouraging responsible dog walking in the countryside, advising walkers to worm their dogs and clean up after them to reduce the spread of infection to livestock. More detail can be found here. We have many footpaths through the farm and although the majority of walkers are great, there are always a few dog walkers that cause havoc. Only this week gates have been left open and “dog size” holes cut in fences where lambs can fit through. Hopefully these signs will help.

Our countryside is beautiful and is currently coming to life. Trees are greening up, our Kingfishers are nesting and the first swallows have arrived on the farm, it is a lovely time of year. I wandered down the river this week and was rewarded with this wonderful photo. Farming and wildlife is a natural combination.

Think I've been spotted….

Think I’ve been spotted….

It’s encouraging to see how many keen youngsters there are in the farming industry and local YFC clubs are thriving. However not all farm kids want to continue the family business and it would be unfair to put pressure on them to do so. Daughter Cel has no interest in agriculture as a career. She’s extremely talented in music and the arts and has just taken her options at school with future plans including university. Son Sam on the other hand, hates school, loves farming and with only a few weeks to go before his GCSE’s it’s been very difficult keeping him focused on schoolwork. Every time revision was mentioned during the Easter Holidays, he disappeared chain harrowing. As a result our farm is now looking like a golf course and Sam has been offered work on the back of his impressive straight lines which were spotted from the road. This is on top various other agricultural jobs he’s already juggling. Maybe I’m worrying unduly about his education as he has a great work ethic and driving ambition, not all 16 year olds have that. Like all parents, we just want both kids to happy with whatever choices they make in life.

He's very proud of his straight lines!

Sam is very proud of his straight lines!