joshuafmetcalfe

Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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!

 

Imparting of Wisdom

In Agricultural, education, family, farming, getting started on August 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm

People who know the industry say that we need an injection of passion into younger Farmers. Whilst I don’t feel I know enough to form an opinion on the matter, I do feel that I am passionate about Farming. I have said often that I seek to learn from everybody I meet and I have encountered no shortage of helpful people yet. I find myself drifting further and further into the form of a terrible stereotype; I have a genuine urge to get outside and do something useful; so I have done.  

I treat a big old wooden Barn door and cross frame with Creosote. It runs in streams of black tar tears down the slight channels and imperfections of each individual wooden plank in the door until, an hour later, a stinking black veil dresses the barn door (and much of the yard below it).  I take a step back and realise why Creosote has the harmful label on every bottle; I feel dizzy and slightly drunk. I pick up 50 new fence posts; the fences around the fields need patching. I pile them into the Barn and swing the dapper shiny Barn door shut. A gust of chemical air follows me.  I wander down the hill, covered in tar black specks and smudges and I watch the Hebridean Shearlings graze. I recall watching the news the day before and hearing; ‘summer is over’. Those Sheep will need their fleeces by winter, especially up here.

I get hold of some free information from EBLEX with regards to better returns programmes for your flock. I flick through and read in-depth and feel re-assured. If this information is free then I think I will struggle to grasp the hypothetical definition of value. Information from the horse’s mouth is equally as important. I visit my great cousin’s farm outside of Haworth and they kindly walk me around, introduce me to their Simmentals and Sheep and share pearls of wisdom. I thoroughly enjoy my afternoon and leave with a snap of Big Bad Bert (pictured below) and a picture of the view from their doorstep (pictured at the very bottom) . I leave feeling grateful, excited and of course, slightly jealous. I appreciate all the kind words, efforts and advice I receive. I feel it is the people I will meet who will be the biggest influence on how I end up Farming.

I receive further promising news, again through somebody I know (and in true fashion abides to the law of seven separations).  My girlfriends friend knows a Farmer whose plot is just outside of the city. Although I don’t want to get my hopes up, this is extremely encouraging. I feel assured too, that people are thinking of me and trying to help me. I feel gratitude alone would not be satisfactory repayment. I thank people for their kindness.

I hope to go to some auctions and markets before I go back to university. I hope I can find somebody who’ll let me go along. It’ll be very beneficial to get used to the way things are done.

That’s quite a view.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…

In family, funding, shows, Uncategorized on August 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

You hear it often and as far as I can tell it’s right in some ways. If your best friend runs a car garage and your car’s on the blink, I’m sure they would offer you help in the form of advice or a cheeky discount.

Similarly, if you have a good friend working behind a bar, I’m sure they’d risk trouble by trying to slip you a free drink. Of all the tokens of friendship, I consider the most valuable to be their good grace and willingness to put up with my never-ending musing.

I feel I have been lucky in the last few years of my life, specifically since I started university. I have met many new people there, many I already consider to be very close friends with whom I suspect I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life.

Through meeting my girlfriend at university, I met her family, all conveniently living in the same small town as me.

Meeting your girlfriend’s family is never easy, nor is it made easier when you realise the ‘true extent’ of the family. I was made very welcome, and was introduced to her family, some of which Farm. It has been getting to know these people (Not just the Farmers, but everybody) that has shown me another reason to Farm;

The Family life. Running your own business with your own family is an idea that is special to a lot of people, including myself. As I have experienced it creates a great, loving family whose desire to help is so strong that it extends beyond just family and friends, but out into the local community.

It seems it takes a lot of graft and an equal amount of heart to Farm, I consider it a humble and very rewarding thing to aspire to.

This holds my anxiety back. I feel full of promise, excitement and desire. I have a year to consider my options. Times are good. I explore the credentials of different breeds of cattle, I settle on the Salers breed. My girlfriends’ mother is secretary of the Salers Cattle Society of the UK and so I read up. They are a hardy breed who graze well and calf easily, great sucklers, good beef and milk production.  I do not feel I will do much milking however.

Still not much luck with finding government schemes. I read on Farmers Guardian that it is a topic for debate in the houses of parliament at the moment.  I think it is good to encourage people like me, but not make it too easy. Offering interest free loans and overdrafts, put pressure on local councils to stop selling their tenanted farms. I feel that all I need is a fair chance when the time comes.

But farming is tough and unpredictable, never fair. I feel confident and challenged. I feel grateful for the people around me. However all this is overridden by the disappointment of the Yorkshire Show.

I was helping out with show cattle for the duration of the show until it was cancelled due to the appalling weather conditions. At the time I was irritated and sure that there could have been some way to go ahead with it. These people are Farmers after all; they’re used to loads of mud. But in hindsight I know it was the correct decision, especially after seeing the front axle being ripped out from underneath a £100,000 horsebox by a Tractor attempting to tow it out of the mire. I suppose it just goes to show how unpredictable the work can be.

Never a dull moment.