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In Your Field: Marie Prebble: 'My 12-week-old collie pup called Kip is already a star'

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.

The dry weather has been a challenge everywhere and my thoughts are with all the farmers affected by moorland fires.

 

It is staggering how people’s behaviour can be so deliberately damaging and there is certainly a long way to go before farmers get the respect they deserve.

 

It is true no-one makes us do what we do, rather we are driven by a natural compulsion to grow and produce quality food from our landscape, but sticking out long, cold winters and summer droughts is not for everyone.

 

I weaned the flock in the first week of July and pulled any poorer ewes off too. The one group of younger ewes have held their condition well despite not having a lot to eat for a few weeks, which has done them no harm. The other group will improve now with their lambs away from them.

 

This year more than ever we have needed our stock to prove their resilience and Romneys again demonstrate their survivability and adaptability. The lambs are looking very good and are all now on eight hectares (20 acres) of a rye-grass, chicory, plantain and clover which has been rested so there is a good bite in front of them, and they will grow on well.

 

I have buyers for the 120 ewe tegs I kept for sale so I expect I will shift them soon, although it is difficult to know what to charge.

 

We are just waiting for the hay aftermaths to freshen up but there is not much chance of that happening until we get a decent downpour. There was flash flooding 20 miles from home but not a drop here. The ground is rock solid.

 

We are getting through haymaking, having been treated to the rare knowledge that we were not racing to beat the weather. I have also just finished shearing ewes for the season, my final couple of days shearing Romneys on the Romney Marsh, next to a pub called The Shepherd and Crook.

 

I now have a 12-week-old collie pup called Kip in tow and she is already a star, sitting quietly watching me shearing all day. One of my dogs is now her playmate and the other tolerates her.

 

With pup’s arrival came brand new kennels and an improved feeding regime so she has their overall approval, becoming the newest Kent Shepherd team member.

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