Richard Thomas - The yield from fields
PUBLISHED: 12:08 05 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:49 20 February 2013
Richard Thomas farms with his father at Risbury Court in Herefordshire, and is the fifth generation of his family to work on the same farm and the fourth generation to breed Hereford cattle
Red sky at night, shepherds delight, especially when you have 20 acres of hay on the ground, nearly ready to bale and the sky is full of rain. The rain did hold off and we got our hay safely loaded onto trailers, ready to unload another day. If you make hay into big round bales, however, it is best to leave them outside for a few days to cool down. Many barn fires are caused by hay heating up in the stack, as it is surprising how hot it can get.
With the hay and silage safely cut and baled, August was free to get on with combining and hauling bales. Our barley yielded well, with plenty of straw too. The straw is always very precious as a feed, almost as much as the grain especially this year with the dry weather affecting grass and cereal yields across the county and the country. Our wheat did not yield so well, more so because of the lack of spring rain. I think we will still have enough to feed to our cattle and sheep in the coming winter months, but, as for many, feed stocks will be tight. We bed all our cattle on wheat and rape straw, keeping them clean while they are housed for winter. It is sold by the acre and, expecting a smaller crop this year, we have bought more than usual. Many of my farming friends have done the same, increasing the price pressure on this important by-product. Still, the lamb price is holding up, well above last years price for the time of year. Similarly the cattle price is good too and arable farmers have enjoyed a high world wheat price over past months. It seems the only industry that is having a tricky time is the dairy sector, with increased input prices not always reflected in the farm gate milk price.
Herefords new market was the location for the Herefordshire Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) Junior Field Day this year. The new market is a fantastic facility for the county and it is great to see it being used for a Young Farmers competitions day, as well as the usual livestock sale every Wednesday. Hereford Market Auctioneers kindly hosted the event and partner Mike Evans agreed to judge the junior mock auction competition. It was won by Tom Bennett from Dilwyn YFC. Im not sure if Mike offered him a job there and then, but he might be a future auctioneer in waiting!
Craswall YFC won the day overall, adding to their silverware for 2011. Look out all the other clubs, Craswall will be winning the annual YFC rally soon. Dilwyn came second and equal third were Pencombe YFC and last years winners Teme Valley YFC.
Charlotte Watkins from Craswall won the hotly contested egg beating competition. Its always a favourite at the end of the day and this year was no exception. There had to be an egg off between the two top competitors as Dave Long from Welsh Newton and Charlotte finished the final in a dead heat.
The next big date in the Young Farmers calendar is the Ploughing Match on September 18 at Holme Lacy College. It is always a fun day, with many traditional competitions. Come along for a look if you have time and if you are interested in joining. The autumn is always a good time to join up, as the years competitions programme is just starting.