The farming and smallholding thread

We farm a little over a thousand acres in south Wiltshire. Thirteen years ago I put half the arable area into a Natural England scheme whereby it was restored to chalk downland, I'm still in with NE, although their admin is beyond abysmal.
We grow milling wheat, malting barley and oilseed rape, though the latter is subject to review. So that's 500 arable acres, 500 of now permanent pasture, and c.200 acres of watermeadows and woodland. And a stretch of the Avon.
There is a small herd of Sussex cattle as of last year which will top out at 20 breeding cows. The meat will be sold direct from the farm starting in early summer 2020.
We've always done a few pigs in the garden, for fun, and next year this is going to be put on a more professional footing, utilizing some of the woodland and again sold direct.
I have a working farm foreman who has been here 40 years, so who works for whom is slightly moot, especially since I pay him more than me. There will be a job going here in a couple of years.
There are stresses and strains, periods of manic work and enforced inertia. I welcome constructive and informed criticism of the industry but tire of ignorant ag bashing and Bad Science.
I feel incredibly privileged to be in the position I am: doing an important job in a lovely part of the world. My overriding ambition is to hand over the estate to the next generation in a secure position, environmentally and economically . And buy a new pick up, obvs.
What kind of malting barley?
 
******* shitkickers.

On that note, if I decide to give your exorbitantly expensive restaurant a whirl do I get to chose my own cow to eat?

You know? like those fish restaraunts where you chose your trout from a tank, do you wheel the cows past the window and top them to order?

Restaurant at the End of the Universe Walt!
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
With regards to the raddling on sheep, we do also use those things on the Ram’s chest to mark which ewes he’s been on.

But for some reason they still put the red stuff on the backs of Herdwicks.

If you go to the main Herdwick tup sale in Cockermouth, they all have red backs.

Just some weird tradition.


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As an Electronic/Communications Engineering graduate I always fancied the idea of becoming an Antenna Farmer. Not sure where to find the details of where to apply.
A mate of mine has 3,000 acres of Suffolk arable.

His most productive land?

The quarter of an acre next to the A14 that he rents out to mobile phone companies to have their masts on!
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Out of interest, having indirectly been affected by bovine TB, what’s your take on badger culling and the badgers impact on bovine TB?
I’m still not sure that they’re the main cause of it, however they certainly don’t help the situation.

Any uncontrolled animal that big that can roam as far as they do, isn’t a good thing for the spread of disease. Deer likewise.

Having seen how fragile farm animals can be, I don’t want any faeces from anything that’s not them in my fields.

We’ve had goats die, simply because they’ve been in a shed that chickens were kept in the previous year. Likewise there is a farmer in the village who’s hygiene is questionable.

I never put stock in fields that border his.

We had a cull up here and there has been a drop in cases of bovine TB, so it seems to be working.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Looks like v good meat...chops making me hungry. You probably know him, having a flock of Herdwicks, but James Rebanks is a damn fine follow on twitter, especially on the whole eco/business thing.
Yep, loved his book. It’s partly the reason we ended up with Herdwicks.

He used to work for the father in law a few years back and I think their first farm was rented off the estate.
 
Nice topic. I grew up in rural Staffordshire and farming, shooting and fishing were the norm. Everyone grew their own veg.
One of my uncles grew sheep. One of the best times of my life was working on his farm in the summer before I joined the army. Long days, really hard work, and if you are squeamish and/or easily moved to tears, it’s not for you.
I recall my uncle falling asleep every time he sat down. But all my cousins had the run of the farm (as we did when we joined them) and no real harm was done.
If you look at the pics of Ravers’ nippers having fun...they will never forget that.
 
Brilliant thread @Ravers

Just an idea regarding the use of meat in your restaurants and pubs...

The Catalans reckon that the best steaks come not from pure beef stock but 6 year old (or so) dairy cows
usually just using the Cote de Boeuf cut.

I wonder if the same could be applied to beef cows nearing the end of their reproductive run?
 
This thread is fascinating.
Carry on.

And you farmers, get started online ordering with arrsers given a discount.

ETA, I'd be willing to pass on any discount earned to a service charridy.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Brilliant thread @Ravers

Just an idea regarding the use of meat in your restaurants and pubs...

The Catalans reckon that the best steaks come not from pure beef stock but 6 year old (or so) dairy cows
usually just using the Cote de Boeuf cut.

I wonder if the same could be applied to beef cows nearing the end of their reproductive run?
We often send older cows to slaughter and eat them. To be honest it’s all about how the meat is hung.

We built a climate controlled dry ageing room a few years back. We can age steaks for over 100 days but it’s an acquired taste.

Can’t go wrong with around 30 days in my opinion.

Edited to add:

We have both meat and dairy goats and they look and taste completely different.

The meat off the dairy goats isn’t much use for anything other than curries or burgers.

Most people who’ve tried goat before, will have eaten an ex dairy goat that’s spent it’s life eating rubbish next to a Jamaican motorway, being marinated in truck exhaust fumes.

Very few people will have tried properly bred meat goat before. The meat is amazing. Texture of fillet steak, slightly lamby flavour but very little fat.

I would imagine it’s a similar deal with dairy and beef cattle.
 
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