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My Farming Week: Matthew Sharp, Northumberland

Matthew Sharp is a first generation farmer who runs a diverse farm business for a trust, plus his own farm producing commercial cattle and pigs.

Busy start: The first couple of months of the year were supposed to be quiet. However, the past week, month even, has been pretty hectic and this is without the daily feeding and bedding routine.

 

Land is drying up, I even managed to empty my in-tray and clean my desk until Sarah, our secretary, came back from holiday.

 

Pigs: Monday saw a batch of sows start farrowing right on cue as we cleared the last 40 out of the shed. We have got 60 traditionally-bred piglets on the ground for one customer and I hope by the end of the weekend we will be nearer to 80.

 

I have drawn the last 10 gilts to be served on my indoor pigs this week, so they will be due to see Keith at the end of next week.

 

Just for the record, one of my farmworkers named the boar, not me.

 

Cows: Spring calving cows are due to start this week and as long as they go as well as the autumn calvers, I will be happy. My autumn calves are looking good and starting to muscle up well.

 

A bite of grass and some sunshine would do them wonders, but my dream of an early turnout into lush swards is probably somewhat optimistic.

 

Sheep: We housed our small flock of 80 ewes a fortnight ago, with help from Matt Baker and the ITALS Countryfile team.

 

With drier conditions, we have put them back outside, having had to go through all their feet yet again. Hopefully we will not need to see them for a month or so yet.

 

Tuesday saw a brief teleconference for my role as director of Care Farming UK.

 

Care farming is the therapeutic use of farming practices which includes providing health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people.

 

Growing: Thursdays and Fridays are picking days and our horticulture sales are still quite productive, considering we are at our worst time of the year.

 

Taking a gamble in the back-end, sowing things we normally would not (and plenty of it) has worked, so Angela is still beavering away with orders.

 

Clearing: The highlight of my week has been getting our workshop cleared out, sad I know. It turns into a feed store, junk store and general tip over winter, but you can see the floor now and it has been brushed.

 

There is £20 on who will leave the first thing out of place, which is enough incentive for me to stop leaving coffee cups balanced on top of the Kubota.

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