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In your field: Marie Prebble - 'We’ve recorded just 74ml of rain in the past 14 weeks'

am pleased to be hiding from the heat and catching up on office work. A week of 30degC heat (and more) and not a drop of rain has parched already severely dry ground and there is not a bite of grass over most of the farm.

We have recorded just 74ml of rain in 14 weeks, which has always been interspersed with quick drying conditions. Fortunately the ewes are all in good condition and it will be better to hold them back for a spell now, then allow them a decent chunk of grazing rented from the neighbour ahead of tupping.

 

I have shorn all my lambs and it is pleasing to see them grazing hay aftermaths which desperately need the thunderstorms that have missed us so far.

 

Shearing away from the farm is also up to date for now and I have enjoyed the change of pace of being at home.

 

Dad has finished haymaking and what an amazing job he has done.

 

I am sure there are others within the farming community, but I am not sure many other 70-year-olds are still working 12 or 14-hour days.


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Yields are down to half of our usual crop and the small bales for horses will have to be charged accordingly.

 

We made some silage for the first time from the legume sward that is part of our countryside stewardship agreement, which will be perfect feed for the ewes in the run-up to lambing.

 

Holidays at home are the new jet-setting, so I do hope Dad takes a well-earned break now.

 

I am buying some rams from Pip and Matt Smith, whose flock performance is to be admired.

 

It will be pleasing to fast-track genetic improvement in my flock and keep focused on moving the Romney breed in a positive direction.

 

With store sales starting up it seems the trade is buoyant and although I will not be selling any lambs through the market for a while, I have other stock available from the farm which will hopefully sell well.

 

I have been speaking with a chef who has opened numerous restaurants in London but is looking for a change of direction, so we are discussing options for running food and farming festivals and courses.

 

Hopefully the hunger for local, sustainable food systems that has amplified through the pandemic will continue long term.

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