joshuafmetcalfe

Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Why bother blogging?

In Agricultural, farming, getting started on February 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Coming from a none-farming background and attempting to break in to farming I initially assumed that writing a blog would serve little purpose in the grand scheme of starting from scratch in agriculture. After all, the depth of knowledge required (let alone the work ethic) to become a successful farmer is so vast that one can be forgiven for not recognising the practical and prudent purpose that blogging serves.

As I frequently say; every world wise person knows that it’s not about what you know, but who you know and this old proverb is proven most obviously in the undeniable importance of networking. The first lesson I learnt is that Twitter is totally invaluable, all you really have to do is find the right readers and never be afraid to ask for help, the worst thing anyone can say is no. Having said that, it’d be foolish to assume that the majority of people wouldn’t be interested in helping. Thanks to mainstream media, farming is very much in fashion at the moment and in my position that’s strikingly apparent. I’ve found that an overwhelming majority of people are happy to help, anything from a re-tweet to having me over for a couple of days work experience when I have a break in my busy university schedule.

View photo.JPG in slide show

For me, that’s what will come next and what I am very excited for. As I approach graduation finding agricultural work has become my imperative and I think this is the most important step in establishing myself in Farming (aside from somehow acquiring about £30,000). But crucially, I feel confident and it is because of my blog ultimately that I feel that way. I only began to write my blog six months ago and already it has led to exciting opportunities. It is exclusively down to my blog that I was accepted for the Farmers Weekly’s Farm Apprentice competition, which has proved to be one of my most inspirational events in my journey into farming thus far. Realistically, the sheer amount of people I have met as a consequence of blogging and the inspiration they offer is a list far too long to write.

It has to be said, it is not necessarily easy to find the time to periodically sit down and commit your week to words. Just like writing an essay or sitting an exam, the hardest part is starting it off. As I have written more I have adopted a pretty simplistic technique; think through your fingers and you’ll come up with something sincere and honest. Now I have reached that stage I find myself almost addicted to writing my blog and I feel that I couldn’t actually farm without blogging about it in future. Farming is undeniably a lifelong labour of love and writing about something you love is simple, honest and sincere. But the true beauty of blogging is that everyone can do it, and I would encourage anyone interested to do so wholeheartedly.

Looking forward to Lambing.

In Agricultural, farming on February 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Once again, as a means to keep myself busy and active I visited Sophie Barnes (@SheepishSophie) and her flock of Castlemilk Moorits recently. I feel very thankful that I have found somewhere that’ll let me come and gain experience whilst I finish up my degree. I think this feeling of sentimentality and appreciation is mostly down to the fact that I have excellent friends in Agriculture. I’m still looking very much to the future and still very much excited.

 

One of the many new and interesting experiences I’ve had recently; meeting the Barnes’ second flock of rarebreed sheep, a harem of Whitefaced Woodlands. I’ve learnt that these are one of the biggest hill breeds of sheep in Britain and considering where I live I think it may be wise to pay some attention to them. I carefully straddle then clear the electric fence, approach and examine a pleasantly docile and pretty flock of sheep.  Any animal bred with the Pennines in mind has to be both a charming and practical one.

 

There is work to be done however. We leave the Whitefaces to their winter forage and go see the Castlemilks, with an aim to do some Sheep repair work. After a bracing and potentially embarrassing attempt at filling the role of sheepdog we guided the sheep into a pen and got underway. Feet were clipped, Worming meds were administered, Inoculations were given and fun was had. I learn that almost all of the Castlemilks in the flock are pregnant: I become even more excited for Lambing time.

 

On an unrelated note I see that an interesting question has been asked in this weeks edition of Farmers Weekly: ‘Do you have a successor lined up for your Farm business?’. Naturally, difficult access to land is one of my greatest hindrances. If schemes can be put in place to encourage live-in apprentice schemes with a view to hand over tenancy at some point then I feel this could prove an appealing prospect. Perhaps applicants can be sourced from agricultural colleges throughout Britain. I am aware that this may seem somewhat hardline, a tricky subject with a great deal of imagined and inevitable teething problems. But it pains me that at home, the old hill farmers sell up to property developers who sell off the land at a high price to established farmers. It doesn’t make the mean feat of establishing yourself in agriculture any simpler.