joshuafmetcalfe

Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

In Agricultural, farming, getting started on September 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

My return to university looms large. This weekend I move back to Leicester, back to the city centre and away from all the open space, peace and quiet, fresh air and Farms. I’m excited to return to study and enjoy my final year, even if it is of no real use to what I want to do. I need to find a Farm around the city that will let me volunteer for them, any suggestions are most welcome.

The Badger Cull seems to have literally hit the fan this week, all I read on twitter is of arguments between Farmers and animal rights activists. I don’t believe culling is ideal, but it seems that something must be done soon. I read online that the RSPCA have called for a boycott of all dairy products from farms that support/allow the cull to go ahead on their land. They argue that Farmers should be made to feel the ‘Commercial consequences’ of allowing Badgers to be shot on their land. The RSPCA doesn’t seem to realise that if these Farmers submit to the RSPCA’s boycott then they will inevitably feel the ‘Commercial consequences’ when their entire herd has to be culled because they all contracted bTB from pasture contaminated with Badger urine. I hope the powers that be make the correct decision that benefits Farmers and Badgers alike. The country side is all ours to share, regardless of species.

If anything is worth all Brian May’s hard work it is the honey bee, without which all arable production would suffer. I propose a hug-a-bee day, I propose urban hives on top of high rise apartment and office buildings, I propose it be made compulsory for all tenant Farmers renting from local council to keep honey bees in some number. They are invaluable and must be nursed back from the brink of extinction.

As a topic of relevance; getting young people into farming has become a hot topic. Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has called for more help for new entrants from the Government and from DEFRA. The man is a saint. 60 000 new entrants must be found within ten years, it is good to see that people are making it a priority.

One thing I admit I haven’t considered about becoming a Farmer is how dangerous it is. According to Government statistics it is the most dangerous workplace environment. This becomes more than a statistic when you read of the tragedies that strike all over the world. ‘Young Rugby player & Farmer killed in horrific silage accident ‘. One lung full of the noxious gasses produced in slurry towers is enough to render a person immediately unconscious and can even result in asphyxiation and death, an awful way to go. Thoughts go out to their family, theirs and the many other people killed in accidents with machinery and animals. This does nothing to deter me from my dream though; the rewards of farming far outweigh the risks. My drive is as strong as ever.

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Ability is nothing without opportunity.

In Agricultural, education, family, farming, getting started on September 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

Already opportunity has come knocking in various forms. Within the space of three weeks I have progressed from having worryingly little to write about to almost having too much to write about. It seems contradictory to complain and I am quite excited, this provides me with the chance to talk to a lot of people who are involved in farming in different ways.

It seems so far that taking swallowing my pride and writing this blog was the best decision I could have made. I feel as if my mind eases every time I write an entry. It almost feels like a relief to commit my thoughts to writing, it goes beyond a sense of relief when I receive praise and help.

I continue to keep myself busy and keep up to date with the current affairs. The more news I read the further my slightly warped and perhaps misinterpreted picture of the sector develops. I feel I have quickly learnt that nothing stays still for long in this industry. One moment the Badger cull has the go ahead for a pilot cull, the next it’s postponed. I realize that budget cuts have hit the industry as hard as any other; DEFRA’s animal health budget is set to reduce from £244 million to £199 million in 3 years, and with bTB costing DEFRA £100 million per year it is certain to be subject t to imminent cuts. A cheaper solution to bTB must be found. Hopefully no more livelihoods will be totally ruined whilst we patiently wait for a definitive decision.  

All these problems; rising costs of fuel, a poor summer and various prolific diseases make me realize how versatile you have to be to make a success out of Farming.

I’ve been approached by The Salers Cattle Society to run their Twitter and Facebook pages, to cast ‘young eyes on the Market’. I say that I would happily do the job for free for the title of Editor of Digital Content. Whilst this title is admittedly nonsense I am excited at the prospect of writing more and talking with more Farmers. Especially consider that I want to keep Salers, so any information I can get my hands on would be very interesting. I will approach it with the same enthusiasm as I approach my blog with.

Cows and Calves

In these past few weeks I have liaised with several Farmers, some as young as me. I am hungry to know how they manage their Farm whilst they seem to be curious as to why anyone would ever choose to become a Farmer. I suppose my passion for it is due to the way I’ve been raised. As I’ve talked about before, I have experienced Farming throughout my entire life but I think considering the ‘bigger picture’ really swung it for me.

I was born into a generation of men and women who are groomed to be professionals. We are bred to sit at desks, to answer phones and meet deadlines and audits. We are brought on to fill a pair of office shoes and black trousers. Sired by a generation who experienced spiritual, political and social revolution in the 1960′s. I refuse to believe that my path in life is pre-determined by the family I have been born into. I don’t want to work in an office; I want to be a Farmer. As all my friends know I could happily shout it from the rooftops.

Please keep reading, and keep your eyes out for the soon-to-be Salers Cattle Society of the UK twitter page!

 

Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can’t.

In Agricultural, education, farming, getting started on September 4, 2012 at 8:45 am

They say that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do anything you can to attain it. This of course puts emphasis and importance upon the concept of being very proactive. I nursed concerns initially that my hunger to learn would, for the most part fall upon unwilling or uninterested ears. Luckily for me it seems things couldn’t be any further from the truth.

  I have put many hours in on Twitter and Facebook this past week; badgering people to re-tweet me for promotional benefit. As a consequence of this, interest in my Blog seems to have increased as my blog views have risen dramatically. I have spoken to a great many people this week who have kindly promoted my Blog and I have nothing but gratitude to them. Some say to me that it is refreshing to talk to someone young who has a true passion for Farming. I consider this very encouraging and it once again becomes apparent that the people I meet will influence me beyond any previously imagined extent.

  As I walk from my village over to my girlfriends’ village I find myself studying the Farms that cover the valleys and hilltops like a giant patchwork duvet. I come to the terrible realisation that I have begun to take photos of Farms I pass on my travels. I fear that I now appear to others as a wide-eyed novice seeking to adopt forced pretence. I consciously counteract this by using my IPhone instead of a camera. Though I suppose to an honest degree I am a wide-eyed novice. There is no shame in that.

  I ask my great cousin if I can go to market with them at some point and they accept. I feel that experiences like this are important. Farming is a business (amongst many other things) and I must understand the inner workings of where most make their money. My anticipation grows to excitement when I realise that it will be a Wednesday afternoon and I will therefore have to miss work; what a shame.

  As the days pass I work and daydream. I think about what breed of sheep I will keep to start with. My first flock will have to be small, no more than twenty heads really, but I have to start somewhere. I like the sound of Hebredian ewes; I hear they practically look after themselves in winter. I will have to re-fence the vast majority of the plot but I do not doubt that it will be well worth the effort. I decide that I will cross my Hebredians with a Texel Ram to increase the size and weight of the lambs and to (hopefully) quicken the time taken for them to reach a substantial kill weight. Financing my flock will be a financial strain, but I know I will earn it back after 14 months. I look forward to the inevitable problems I will encounter, as usual I feel very excited. The list of possibilities is essentially endless.

 I hear from the Farmer just outside Leicester, he is willing to let me come and help one day a week. Again I am thankful for the good grace I receive from everybody involved and feel determined to reward their kind gesture with hard work and swift learning. I just hope I am able to maintain a healthy focus on my degree and not get too distracted from my final year of study.