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In your field: Kate Beavan - 'We have decided we should sell our cider, rather than drinking it and giving it away'

New writer Kate farms alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

Farming 202ha (500 acres), the main enterprises consist of 1,500 breeding ewes and rear 50 bucket calves annually. She is a mum of two, cider-maker, county chairwoman for the NFU, volunteer with RABI, mental health first aider, teaches three days-a-week at the local college and runs ‘Kate’s Country School’ on-farm.

 

Kate

 

I have big boots to fill following the legend that is James Powell and I will do my best to keep up the good work.

 

As a brief introduction I am a Lancashire lass who moved to Wales 30 years ago to work as a veterinary nurse, joined Abergavenny Young Farmers’s Club, met my husband Jim and the rest is history. The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs has to be the largest rural dating agency in the world.

 

Readers in Lancashire may remember my dad, Jack Benson, a true countryman, farming champion, writer and rhymer who made you laugh.

 

We run 202 hectares (500 acres) over two farms in a family partnership. Predominantly beef and sheep, we also have an arable enterprise to fulfil our animal feed requirements.

 

Diversification enterprises include Beavan Family Butchers in Abergavenny, run by brother-in-law Huw and family, and Kate’s Country School here, where we offer rural courses, school visits and team building events.

 

I also teach animal welfare and conservation three days-a-week at the local college.


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Cider has been made on the farm since the 17th century and we have decided we should be selling it, rather than drinking it and giving it away.

 

Traditionally made, it is part of your five-a-day (made with 100 per cent apples), but can be pretty potent at 8.5 per cent. And this year we made 3,500 litres.

 

For readers in the Scottish Highlands, please look out for a contract shearer with a Welsh accent as that would be son Sam who is trying his best to understand the local dialect and I am sure it works both ways.

 

Daughter Celyn is currently working for NFU Mutual while studying for a self-funded psychology degree. I am immensely proud of them both.

 

It is the season for maggots. The commercial flock was shorn in early June and we have just finished shearing our Epynt Hardy Speckled sheep, a resilient native breed.

 

Wool is worthless this year because of low demand for the material due to Covid-19 and we are storing ours. To be honest, the price of wool has been pretty poor for the last two decades.

 

The crazy fact is the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords sits on the woolsack, introduced in the 14th century to reflect the economic importance of the wool trade in the UK.

 

There was a time it was an integral part of the history of Britain and much of the country’s wealth was founded on wool. At one point, wool became the principal output of UK sheep flocks, but its importance began to dwindle at around the time of the industrial revolution.

 

With so many properties, surely there is a place for wool in our environmentally aware population. I have been told the rules and regulations regarding using wool in building materials are expensive to implement. Maybe legislation needs to catch up with science.

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