Christine Ryder North Yorkshire Christine Ryder and husband Chris farm 242ha (600 acres) at Blubberhouses, in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are tenants on their home farm and also run a B&B. Stock includes Swaledale and Mule flocks, as well as a herd of Belted Galloways. The farm hosts educational access visits.
The much needed rain which came last week was a godsend as everything was getting very dry and the grass was not growing. However, it did not all have to come at once, especially when I was driving last Wednesday down to the Devon County Show.
We stayed on a farm, of course, and during our stay we went to the Devon Farm Business Awards. It was wonderful to see the great talent and diversity in our agricultural industry. It seemed an awful long way to go for two nights, but with Otley Show on Saturday we did not have any more time.
I think the highlight for me was doing the meet and greet when Sophie, Countess of Wessex, came to an Addington event at lunchtime. And, of course, going on holiday with a farmer means no trip is complete without a visit to an auction mart before coming home.
We had a great day with some members of the International Wool Textile Organisation earlier this month. There were 40 visitors from as far afield as Uraguay, Lesotho, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and several European countries. Chris penned some sheep and lambs to show the different breeds we keep here and they were fascinated to touch all the different wool from the hard Swaledale through to the soft Bluefaced Leicester.
James Wilson did a shearing demo for them and the Australians were quite taken with how different the Texel cross hogg wool was to the thick, big heavy fleeces of the Merino. Interestingly, there were two Australian farmers in the group but they did not call themselves farmers, they called themselves ‘wool growers’.
One chap did not lamb his sheep he just kept them for the wool and told us there was a shortfall of 30 million sheep there to keep up with the demands of China. Our Higher Level Stewardship Scheme comes to an end next year and so now there is much debate here as to whether we apply for a new scheme or wait and see what happens with Brexit.
It was interesting to see in the Conservative manifesto a pledge to support farming and food production. And rightly so, we can manage without lots of things but not without food and clean water. This week my term as deputy mayor of Harrogate came to an end. It has been an honour and a great experience and now, with more time at home, I think Chris is thinking of things for me to do.