joshuafmetcalfe

Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Foothold

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

In the wake of a lengthy break from writing my blog I am pleased to be able to say that much has changed.

 
 
Some broody Hens

Some broody Hens

 
Early this year we were presented with the opportunity (after months of patient brokering) to take on a stewardship of a farm only half a mile up the hill from where we lived. The Farm comes complete with land that conveniently backs onto our owned land, extensive barn with a hay loft, numerous outbuildings and half decent access routes. The Farm has been empty for a number of years and consequently required a generous amount of work both inside and out in order to bring it up to scratch. Whilst the Farmhouse is very much the domain of my Girlfriend and her mother, the outdoors has been largely left up to me to me to sort out. So far this summer I’ve been busy with a great deal of fencing and weed-spraying, a little de-forestry, repairing the outbuildings, hanging some gates and a little dry stone walling. The arrival of some orphan lambs in April gave me fresh incentive to get on with the work that needed doing. Having raised the lambs from birth it is now a lovely sight to see them enjoying the freshly restored pasture. They were turned out around four weeks ago and have enjoyed significant and consistent weight gains ever since. Typically however, the solution of one problem often leads to the formulation of another and this is it:
 
Do I keep the Lambs back for breeding, or do I finish them and use the money to invest in quality stock?
 
I’d prefer the latter, though as I feared sentimentality factors into the equation with my family, who would prefer to keep them to breed. 
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All the Farm work takes place before 7am/after 5pm on a weekday or during weekend, this is because I have also undertaken an apprenticeship in Agricultural Robotic Engineering at Harry Travis (Rishworth) LTD. For the most part it entails Dairy Engineering, building/refurbishing/repairing/servicing pasteurisers, homogenisers, separators, fillers and washers but as a company we specialise in automated robotic milking systems. The work is challenging and more often than not confusing but rewarding, plus the company also trades in farming supplies which is convenient for me. 
 
What is there to come? As I’ve mentioned I’m scheming on growing my flock, but in which direction is yet to be decided. I feel I should further consider both rare-breeds and commercial breeds. Perhaps the latterr would benefit me as they are easier to market and thus will fit into my busy life a little easier.