November 2015

The Autumn Issue Redlake is out and contains an historical article about an apprentice in the village; without the space to publish interesting illustrations in the newsletter, where you will find George Davies’ Indenture.

In addition, the Farming Column, written by John Phillips from Treverward had to be severely cut and edited to fit it in the newsletter.  With apologies to John, the editors are here publishing his full, unadulterated article:

May 2015

A new broadband page has been added to the website - will we or will we not get the super fast broadband promised to 95% of the country?  Why do we have to fight so hard to get it?  Find out the latest here.

February 2015

Road closures went as planned, I think.  It seems a little disappointing though that they have only patched the road, when we all thought there would be a lovely new surface to drive on!  Also, why have they ignored the stretch of road between Weir Farm and New Invention?

January 2015

A few of us met to talk about Yoga Classes in the Village Hall.  Although there has been quite a lot of enthusiasm, we still do not know how many people are actually willing to commit.  The result of our meeting is that we will have a trial run of 4 x fortnightly lessons on Wednesday evenings at 6.30 pm.  These classes are taken by Clare Johnson, who has been teaching yoga for many years and has learnt much about how our bodies work in conjunction with our minds.  Whether you know nothing about yoga and want to find out, or you have been doing yoga for years, but need direction and perhaps motivation (like me), Clare can help. See the ‘What’s On’ page for more details.

New Year’s Eve Party

It is becoming a bit of an institute and as such is well worth attending.  So - we don’t provide much in the way of entertainment and everyone brings food and drink to share and Christine and Jim opened the bar and served drinks at cost price this year, but it is a lovely way to bring in the New Year in the company of friends, without anyone having to shoulder the responsibility of hosting a party in their own homes.  If you missed it this year - try again next year!!!

Farming Column Redlake Issue 32  

November 2015

Well it’s frightening to think that almost a year has passed since my last column, how time flys. Last winter came and went with very little snow and led the way for a fantastic spring. It was a case of more luck than judgment in the timing of the weather that paved the way for the best April lambing conditions that we have ever had. We were able to turn lambs out every single day from 6.30 in the morning until 7 o’clock at night. It was truly remarkable to think that on Tuesday the 7th of April the thermometer read 28 degrees Celsius!! –A dream to lamb in and makes you wonder how you ever coped in previous years when the weather wasn’t so kind. Our lambs didn’t really know what rain was until they were 6 weeks old but it was surprising to see that after lambing had finished and we got them all in to do a few jobs and have a count up, the numbers would suggest that the losses were similar to other years. It seems that sheep will still find some way to die if they can! In early June I planted 38 acres of root crops that included Swedes, and a turnip/rape/Kale mixture to provide feed for stock during leaner times in the autumn and winter. I sprayed off and direct drilled the turnip/rape/kale mixture but due to the very dry weather conditions at the time establishment was poor and so a month later I bit the bullet and ploughed the field up and planted the same mixture again. It was a demoralising job to have to re-do the field, the same feeling you get when you don’t get the price you want for your stock in the market and have to take them home and anticipate a better price somewhere down the line. However I am glad that I did this, as out of interest I left a patch of the direct drilling to see how it would come over time and there is no comparison compared to the rest of the field that was ploughed and worked. You don’t need me to tell you which method I will be using in the future! You live and you learn but you’ll never know unless you try. Fields that grew root crops in the previous year are then followed by re-seeded grass in a very simple rotation and so this spring we leyed down 25 acres. The costs of re-seeding are very high but in my opinion these costs are more than worth the benefit that you get out of young leys. If the cost of grass seed were three times the current price then I still think that it would be more than worth it. With current poor prices across all farming sectors at present its more important than ever to reduce costs and I think re-seeding is the single best thing that livestock farmers can do to increase efficiency over a long-term period. 2 years ago Treverward came out of the old countryside stewardship agreements after 20 years. In the new scheme I decided that I would put some of the flatter land in options that placed it under no restrictions. In the two years that we have started reseeding some of the farm we have seen lambs sold straight off grass gone from forty in 2013 to 210 last year and to 450 this year. I am very pleased with this as its 450 less lambs that I will have to buy in feed to fatten them. This has saved a great deal of money as I have always though that buying creep feed for lambs is a road to nowhere as you spend a lot of money with no long term benefits to show for it, I do accept that in some circumstances and depending on what system you run then sometimes you cant get away from it, but not on this farm. Permanent pastures however will always have an equally important role to play on upland farms. They provide grazing for ewes during the summer when ewes are weaned from their lambs and particularly in the winter as they weather well in wet conditions when stock are out wintered. This allows you to keep everything out for a longer period to avoid the high costs associated with housing which again is a good saving. A balance of the both on these kind of farms can only be a good thing in my opinion. November is usually when we start to think about doing some hedging and fencing that is partly funded through Natural England. Its funny how people say that things go round in circles as during the post war years in an effort to increase food production farmers were paid to push hedges out and plough the land, a few years later and they are now paying us to re-plant these hedges and retain our permanent pastures. After watching the news tonight and hearing statistics that the population on this small island is going to increase by 10 million by 2036 I wouldn’t mind betting that in a few years time they will be paying us once again to push all our hedges out and plough the land in an effort to increase food production to feed our over inflated population, its as my father says minus the bad language… “Its laughable- the people who are in charge of this country cant see any further than the end of their nose, its no wonder the country’s broke!!”  

May the start of winter bring you all good luck and fortune and always buy British…

John Phillips Treverward.