Marie Prebble runs a 93ha (230-acre) Ministry of Defence-tenanted farm with her parents, David and Diane, near Dover. Largely permanent pasture in Higher Level Stewardship, the farm is home to 400 breeding Romneys which Marie puts to high index Lleyn rams.
A lot can change in a short time in farming. We went from heavy, cold rain and hailstones one week to blazing sunshine the next, which suddenly added to the workload.
Dad mucked out the lambing shed just in time for me to set up for dagging my tegs before the flies could get to them and then I sheared everything the following week.
It was quite early to get the ewes done but with contract shearing booked up nearly every day for the next couple of months, it is a worry off my mind to know they are shorn.
The ewe tegs look like different animals now their fleeces are off, having had a pretty tough winter. Shearing and a move back home to keep on top of this new grass growth will bring them on leaps and bounds.
The fat trade is holding up remarkably well, if only I had anything to sell, which contributed to a strong breeding sale of ewes, lambs and a few tegs through Ashford market.
I bid as far as I could on a couple of nice pens of Romneys but only came back with 18. I will have to wait and see how the market looks in autumn.
At this point I had better own up to buying four Highland cows and their calves who are happily grazing our rough chalk banks, courtesy of a derogation from Natural England to allow them out there during the ‘no-graze’ summer period. They will hopefully pull down some of the tougher grass which the sheep do not touch.
It is the 50th anniversary of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which our farm sits, and it is a good time to be talking about conservation grazing as a landscape management tool alongside commercial farming.
The BBC is running a local landscape feature and will be coming to film me shearing. I had better keep a pair of jeans and some good gear ready as I am not sure a scruffy shearer makes for good television, but then I hardly watch it.
I submitted our BPS claim and a response to the Defra consultation one rainy afternoon. It will be interesting to see the outcomes from 44,000 responses. Let us hope they carry some weight.
I am looking forward to our National Sheep Association Next Generation Event on June 2 and hope we have plenty of attendees to make it a success.