joshuafmetcalfe

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. 

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  1. Hi I read about you being at university in Leicesterand that you wanted to meet farmers in the area. I am secretary of Ashby de la zouch young farmers club we are the local club for Leicester. We might be able to help you in your search for a local farm if you want to come along and meet some of our members drop me and email or you can search Ashby young farmers club on facebook. I’m from a farming background and know how hard it can be to get into the industry we would all help u out as much as we can.

    • Hello there, I’d be very interested in talking to you! Do you have an email address? Alternativly if you don’t want to give yours out, you can find mine at the bottom of my blog in the ‘about me’ section

  2. Hey Joshua. Congratulations on getting to the final of the Farmer’s Apprentice! I am definitely rooting for you, as your experience seems to most echo my own of knowing you want to farm but not having the right background to support you. I think you a quite a bit further along the road than me (I spent my first day in the fields with sheep on Monday…) but can empathise nonetheless.

    I’m interested to know when your farming ‘eureka’ moment came…presumably after you got to university as you are studying Eng Lit! Incidentally you write very well, with a very readable style, so please don’t abandon English for farming completely. You never know where it will get you (Editor of Digital Content for example!).

    Also, how do you know so much about it already? What are you reading? I’m amazed at your confidence to plan to acquire some sheep as a side project. I’m going to be heading to the RAC in Cirencester in September (already got a degree in English and Education, but why not get two?!) and feel very naive and vulnerable without any study to back me up.

    Do get back to me in between studying and boot camp, and I hope you take the young farmers from Ashby up on their offer – it would definitely be full of useful contacts. As a Leicestershire girl myself (from Lutterworth, in the south) I know you’ll enjoy the lovely countryside 🙂

    Lauren

    • Hello Lauren,

      Thanks for the kind words! Much appreciated. I’ve always thought about doing it but it wasnt until about 3 years ago that I really set myself upon it. I became much closer to it about 2 years ago and i’ve wanted to do it ever since.
      I read Farming news every day really, FG and FW mostly, that helps me keep up to speed and is useful for learning. Also I talk to a lot of people who already farm. There are plenty of helpful people out there so don’t be afraid of talking to people.
      Glad to hear you’re going to RAC, don’t mean to be cheeky but how have you funded it? Are you excited?
      Also I’d be very interested in taking you up on the Ashby offer, can you tell me more?

      thanks Lauren,
      Josh

      • Ah funding…with great difficulty is the answer to that. I was supposed to have started this year but had to defer due to lack of money 😦 I have some saved from my student loan (~£6000) and am going to work over the next year to save more; I’ll get a £10,000 career development loan from the bank and, if I still don’t feel I have enough, do the course part-time and work as a teaching assistant on the side. The course I’m doing is the graduate diploma in agriculture, which is incredibly flexible, so I hope it will all work out even if I do go part-time.

        Will have to start reading the farmer’s guardian then, and although I have met more often with disbelief and scepticism than encouragement, will keep badgering people for experience.

        Lauren

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