What is AgriChatUK?
AgriChatUK is a weekly discussion on Twitter about topics that affect people who work in the UK agricultural industry. It takes place between 8pm and 10pm every Thursday and each week has a different theme.
How can I take part?
If you’re a Twitter user, please follow @MuddyMatches and @AgriChatUK. We will be tweeting facts about rural relationships during the week and talking about potential questions for the discussion. If you wish to share your thoughts on the topic, add the hashtag #AgriChatUK to your tweets or reply to one of the discussion points. AgriChatUK also recommend saving the hashtag so that you can see all posts on the topic in one place.
If you’re not a Twitter user, it’s simple to register. Click on the link to sign up.
The farming industry is facing a crisis as it is thought that at least 60,000 new entrants are needed to enter the industry in the next 10 years for it to continue to thrive.
With this is mind, Farmers Weekly have launched a new competition called Farmers Apprentice to encourage young people to get involved. The competition is open to 18-25 year olds and will be launched at Cereals on Wednesday 13th June with a £10,000 prize up for grabs! More information about the competition and how to enter can be found on the Farmers Apprentice Facebook page, or you can follow them on Twitter.
We think this is a great idea and are asking our members to share this with any 18-25 year olds they know. In the meantime, take a look at their fab video – it beats a desk job any day!
The search is back on for the UK’s top young talent…Young Farmer of the Year is part of a series that celebrates the working heroes of Great Britain.
This year the BBC is on the lookout for Young Farmers aged 16-25. This is an opportunity for people, other than dancers, singers and entertainers to finally step into the limelight. The BBC want to showcase the unsung heroes at the heart of Britain.
If you are a talented Young Farmer or know someone who fits the bill, then the BBC want to hear from you.
The BBC is looking for someone who is a true ambassador for their trade, up for a challenge and wants to showcase their skills!
The programme wants as many applications as possible from a wide selection of farmers which will be whittled down to four contestants who’ll then be put through tough and testing challenges based on their skills. One will eventually win the title of ‘BBC Three’s Young Farmer of the Year.’
call: 0161 244 3716
Applications close on 5th August 2011
Earlier on in this trip we were shocked to hear a story about a London schoolteacher who thought that it was inappropriate for her class to see a cow being milked as it might upset them. What? Turns out she actually thought you have to kill a cow to get its milk.
With rubbish like that being spouted in our classrooms, thanks goodness for initiatives such as Cumbria Farm Days 2007, which seek to reconnect the public with the land and help people understand where their food comes from. Organised by Friends of the Lake District, in partnership with the Cumbria Farmers Network and the National Trust, the Cumbria Farm Days project saw more than 40 farms open their gates to the public and provide an opportunity to experience a working farm first hand. From April to October, people could visit a variety of different farms, ranging from a goat farm in Wasdale to a dairy farm in Lower Eden – sounds a bit like our Muddy Marathon!
More information about next year’s Lake District farm visits can be found by clicking here.
Exactly midway through our tour, we spent the day ‘helping’ Christina’s friend’s brother on his mixed farm in Priors Hardwick, Warwickshire. We’re not sure how much help we were, but it was damn good fun!
At 23, Hugh Darbishire is back on the family farm after finishing college and bursting with ideas. But it’s not as if he hasn’t got a lot going on already. As well as 450 acres of mixed farm to maintain – half arable (a mixture of wheat, rape and turnips) and half pasture (mostly for grazing but they have 80 acres in CSS*), there are also sheep, cattle and horses (his own and liveries) to look after. He also does some contracting (fencing and paddock work) and the family runs a brilliant B&B.
No time for sitting still though and our photos of him bear witness to this by being mostly blurred or of his back! In a rare moment of relative stillness (probably as he was a bit bogged down by the wet ground we were trying to coax some sheep over) we did manage to get this photo of him:
Torn from sleep (in a proper bed – not the motorhome!) at 6.30 am, the first job was to go and check on the pheasants. With Phoebe the Labrador in tow, we whizzed off on a whistle-stop tour of the farm, counting birds and checking they had enough food. One of Hugh’s first plans is to improve the habitat for pheasant and wild duck and let 2-3 days’ shooting.
On the way round, we stopped off at some lovely disused farm buildings at the top of the hill. Subject to grants and planning applications, he also hopes to convert these into eco-friendly holiday cottages that use solar power and the farm’s own natural water supply.
Phoebe warming up her seat
Hugh Feeding Birds
On, on…and time to feed the cattle and put fresh bedding down. We quickly learnt that when putting the straw down it’s best to start at the end of the barn the food is coming in as there is absolutely no chance of shifting a bull once he’s started eating! Then we mucked out the stables while Hugh went to exercise his horse (to be fair, he did ask us if we wanted to ride but, being a bit rusty and with a month left of the tour, we decided to err on the side of caution). And all this before breakfast!
Later that morning we went to the local meet, and then went to check on the pheasants on his uncle’s farm, where he has been helping out. The afternoon was spent rounding up sheep and moving lambs. This was hampered by fading light, very wet ground in the lower fields and sheep that didn’t like getting their feet wet!
It’s certainly not the busiest time for farmers (work-wise anyway) but there is always plenty to do on a mixed farm at any time of year. There’s no letup if you keep livestock; despite quite a heavy night in the pub that evening, Hugh was up at the crack of dawn seeing to the animals.
We really enjoyed spending the day with him and hearing his plans for the farm. His enthusiasm was infectious and, with young people like Hugh getting into farming, you can’t help but feel positive about the future.
Hill Farm B&B
For more information about Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast, call 01327 260338 or visit their website.
*Countryside Stewardship Scheme – an environmental scheme, which means that all the fields have “grass margins”.