Archive for General

Santa farming at Phepson


You would have thought he would be busier at this time of year.


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You get out what you put in

You would have thought that since I produce the finest quality mutton and lamb that I would be pretty familiar with the above rule of thumb. You would have thought…

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Turning out the Ram


The start of the shepherds year comes round again. Only 5 months less 5 days and we’ll have the next generation of Wiltshire lambs on the way.

I’m particularly pleased with my rams this year. I have the 2009 champion ram lamb from the national show and sale and the sire of the top priced pen of 5 ewes from the 2010 sale. Having seen some of the ram lambs offspring from last year its all looking good for next years crop.


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Why are farm businesses so often inflexible?


Farming is often seen as a way of life rather than a business, especially by the old-fashioned smaller farmers.

We often cling to these traditional ideas and see them as more important than profit or even viability. Does the scene on the left command enough demand that people want to pay for it though? Most farm parks I see are full of climbing frames, cute baby animals and ice cream, not traditional farming practices. Do other working people who have their own way of life owe a way of life to someone else?

It’s interesting that when one digs deeper into enterprises one often finds that the small farmer selling at the farmers market or rearing the rare breed pigs is an ex-banker or marketer who has either bought a farm, married into farming or is a small holder (with little historic subsidy payments) making more profit than the 600 acre farm down the road.

It’s a shame that government subsidies have drained the entrepreneurial spirit for so many. Owner occupied farms are blessed with a strong capital position from which to start and yet many still just produce commodity products on a small scale – supported by the subsidies. Taking the market price rather than creating something worth more to people and adding value themselves that they can take out of the business (or re-invest it) as profit. It’s no wonder these small farms are not viable without subsidies.

Considering their capital position there really is no excuse. Why don’t they do it?

Because they don’t have to.


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Lambing Time is nearly upon us

With all the sheep in the barns it reminds me that lambing is soon upon us.

When feeding the sheep there is no better sight than a row of bodies happily feeding – sheep always look happy when feeding.

When it’s cold outside – and it has been really cold – the extra warmth of the sheep in the barns makes them feel cosy and secure. Watching all your prize ewes sitting comfortably on a fresh warm bed of straw, with a full belly and chewing their cud has a hypnotic and comforting feeling to it.

When things have been busy with lambing and you’re still in the barn in the early hours the lambing sheds seem quite serrene (until the next one starts lambing). I sometimes just sit on the straw and take it all in, picking up the contented vibes from all the contented sheep (and I have been known to fall asleep).

My grandfather didn’t believe stress existed – “all in the mind” – he used to say. But if it does I think an hour in the barn at lambing time would be better value than any “proffesional” help I can think of.


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With all the snow things are Hectic


Even when things are crazy and your system is compromised by something like the snow It’s reasuring to recognise that the focus on quality pays off even now.

With all the snow all the sheep have come inside so they are not grazing the wildflower pastures at present. However, because all my conserved forage (hay and haylage) is from wildflower grasslands they are still getting great nutrition and their meat is still infused with the wild herb flavour. Sticking to a positive system seems to always lead to a positive feedback.


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Turning out the Ram

In some ways this is the start of the shepherds year.

When we turn out the Ram for tupping tomorrow it signals that start of the whole process of life on the farm. From now on new life will once again be growing on the farm.

This year I bought the champion Ram lamb from the national Wiltshire Horn Show and Sale. He cost a pretty penny and looks a million dollars. We will only put him to 20 ewes this year as we don’t want to work him too hard in his first year. The sense of anticipation you get when turn them out is great.

Will his offspring live up to their illustrious father? Will they be easy lambing and quick to stand/grow?

Doric on the run…..We’ll find out in the spring.


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