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'I cannot help feeling 2018 has been a year of quite some anxiety in farming'

Firstly, I need to make an amendment to my last column. My father is only retiring from the business in a formal sense, but assures me he will still keep farming, as I well knew, writes Marie Prebble.

More than 50 years’ service at home and he isn’t ready to stop yet. It must be an impossible prospect for anyone in his position and I am very lucky to have his input.

 

I have many jobs to do over the festive season. I have bought some second-hand cattle gates and set up a yard in our lean-to for housing the cows while I wean the calves off the farm.

 

Highlands certainly do not need to be inside, but those cows are likely to end up in Folkestone looking for their calves unless I shut them in for a couple of weeks to let them settle, then the fencing can be replaced and secured.

 

They have been running with an Angus bull, so I can have them pregnancy scanned when our man comes to scan the ewes in January.

 

I am holding on to some lambs for a buyer in February paying decent money and will hope the market trade also improves in the New Year as is rumoured. I have been pulling rams off from their mating groups and they can have some hay inside until I find a spare field for them.


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It is a long game of juggling mobs of sheep at this time of year to make best use of scarce grass and prolong the inevitable of having to put hay out.

 

This will more than likely be happening in the coming week as the ground is getting wet underfoot and the forecast looks pretty wintry over Christmas.

 

Dad will be stepping in to do the looking and feeding while we are in Scotland for a few days over New Year.

 

I have been putting together a business plan for a project I hope to get involved with that is local to me and could be a sensible addition to our current business, with Brexit looming and a no-deal scenario seriously being assessed.

 

I cannot help but feel 2018 has been a year of quite some anxiety in farming, with challenging weather and political instability adding to the workload for many.

 

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year and hope it brings something positive.

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