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Marie Prebble: 'Before getting confined to the cab I have been out and about shearing'

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150716 134 GYS Marie Prebble-7311.jpg

With the weather having been so wet recently, this year’s haymaking has been delayed for a more consistent dry spell. Crops are looking thick but after prolonged heavy rain we are hoping the quality will not be compromised.

 

We do not have the kit to wrap if the weather changes, so here’s hoping the sun shines long enough to get the first two fields we cut this week in the shed.

 

Before getting confined to the cab I have been out and about shearing sheep. I bought a second-hand trailer this season to improve the job at home, which has even survived a few outings to other farms, and I shear for a contractor when I can to get some practice in for competing in the junior show circuit.

 

I have conditionally managed to convince Dad my time away from the farm is well spent; it may be a busman’s holiday but it will be the only one I take.

 

I have grown the flock to 400 breeding ewes, selling cross-bred finished wethers at Ashford market or through my ‘Kent Shepherd’ fresh local lamb boxes. Kent Halfbred females are retained or sold off-farm, with 120 sold this summer to two young shepherds in the area who, like me, want good maternal sheep which have vigorous cross-bred lambs and perform well off unimproved grass.

 

Lambs at home will be weaned in mid-July, then sheared in late-August before being moved. Ewes will be condition scored, drafted and sent to the grazing they require in the lead up to mating.

 

The UK farming community was divided in its opinion on Brexit, but we must now regroup to derive possible benefit. I hope promises of a better negotiating position in trade deals and improved positioning of UK agriculture on the global food production map can be upheld.

Unfortunately, to have to continually justify our existence in farming is demoralising.

 

With the perceptible anti-farming lobby lurking a couple of centimetres below the surface we must get even better at promoting the high standards and quality of food we produce so as not to let any group, or changed political landscape, turn our productive fields into battlegrounds.

 

  • Marie Prebble runs a 93-hectare (230-acre).
  • Ministry of defence-tenanted farm with her parents, David and Diane, near Dover.
  • The farm is largely permanent pasture in Higher Level Stewardship and cropped for hay, plus 21ha (50 acres) of arable contracted by a neighbour.
  • Marie runs 400 breeding Romneys which are put to high index Lleyn rams. Kent Halfbred replacements are either sold off-farm or retained to be crossed with New Zealand Texel sires.
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