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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Farm Apprentice

In Agricultural, farming, getting started on October 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Three days until Farm Apprentice! Been spending most of my time this week packing clothes, double checking my suitcase and mentally preparing myself for a week of mental fun. I’ve booked my train tickets; 07.10 departure from Leicester to arrive in Nantwich station at 09.29. That offers me a healthy 2 hour buffer zone for any delays. I cross my fingers and pray to the Gods of the railway for a smooth journey. 

I’ve paid more attention than ever to twitter. Keeping my eyes peeled for any hints or clues from Farmers Weekly but nothing of any significance has leaked yet. Honestly I’d prefer it to stay as a surprise. I understand that it will most likely be a mixture of The Apprentice, Dragons Den and The Farm (that used to be on channel 5 many years ago). I’m at a loss as to how I should prepare myself, but I suppose all I can do is be ready for anything.

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The prize money is never far from my mind. I think of how I could utilise it; start out with 25 Ewes and a Tup on a hilly 7 acre plot and go the whole hog all year. Experience is crucial, so everything I can possibly do with them I must do. Regular blood testing, shearing, lambing, and upon ultimate slaughter make money from every part of the animal. I’ll even take the hides to a tannery and sell them to whoever will take them.

I love the idea of producing and promoting prestigious British Wool. There seems to me to be a gap in the market in this. British people are proud of their heritage. Why not suggest schemes with British tailors/manufactures/department stores to stock our great British Wool. Not only would the retailers be offering their customers a quality product with pride in every stitch, they’d be supporting all the British farmers that the cosmopolitan nation seems to have totally forgotten about.

I have taken to time to check out the other finalists and I feel very excited to work with them all. There seems to be a very wide range of individuals with a wealth of experience between them: I look forward to learning from them all and sharing what I can. I’m also quite excited to have a good look around Reaseheath College. I am still undecided as to whether more education is necessary, so perhaps this week may help me decide.

Reaseheath College

I’ll be keeping posted on my twitter during this week, so if anyone is interested in my progress please do keep up! Also you can check out the other finalists here; http://www.fwi.co.uk/farmersapprentice/finalists/annabelle-story/.

https://twitter.com/JoshuaMetcalfe1

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A year won’t last long

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

The more I explore my options, the more I learn. Possibilities literally do seem endless. To my delight I have been accepted and will participate in the final of Farm Apprentice (Taking place 22nd-27th October) and am very excited to say the least. Being presented with this kind of opportunity sends my imagination wild. I feel it will be essential to transfer these ideas into sustainable and lucrative practice. Although I have just started my third year of University (and should be enjoying it) it feels more like a distraction.

My mind should be on literature. I sit in classes writing and discussing Philip Hensher, Shakespeare and Marlowe, Contemporary fiction and British Drama. I sit in classes thinking about rare breeds, business models, profit margins and sustainable organic production. Needless to say my degree and my dreams are clashing at the moment. I feel that I can maintain a healthy balance, focus on my degree and indulge in farming when I can. Sadly I’ve yet to find a Farm around Leicester that I can go out to. I’m still determined to find one though.

Farmers weekly, Inspiring Fresh Farming Talent

The Farm Apprentice competition boasts a £10,000 prize. This is a dizzying amount of money for a student and I know I could make something that size go further than most. Providing I have free access to land I plan on establishing a small flock of Hebridean sheep, maybe 25 heads. I plan to breed them for lamb. Although they are smaller than most breeds (and therefore less suitable to meat production) I plan on needing a hardy breed. To increase the size of the lambs I may consider cross breeding the Ewe’s with a large breed of Ram, like a Texel or Lleyn. My flock would serve as a great side project that I can work on whilst working and educating myself.

I want to keep poultry alongside my flock. I’ll knock up a makeshift run, cut my fingers to shreds on chicken wire, break my back fence-posting, but I will do it. I will re home battery hens. I will watch them as they learn to be Chickens again. Watch them as they learn to walk and socialise, then feed them corn and sell their eggs and eventually their meat.

It astonishes me that the Badger Cull debate is still raging. Every day I read of different perceptions of the argument. I read of people who support the cull, they argue it is the cheapest & most efficient way of dealing with the problem. Although I don’t think it’s an ideal solution, I can easily empathise with this argument.  It seems easy for people outside of the industry to campaign against the cull as Badgers are a part of our Great British countryside. But I feel that the Cull doesn’t affect them as much as it does Farmers. Although this does not mean their opinion is less valuable, I do feel that the matter should be kept within the industry.

It’s all very confusing, always interesting though.