For the second night in a row I have been stood at the window watching the rain lash down. This is not helping my mood as it has been showery on and off for a while now and our autumn work is backing up. The grazing wedge is full, but with our wheat yet to combine and 10 hectares (25 acres) of haylage still to cut there is still much to do besides getting ready for the next horse trials on September 25-27.
The steady decline in milk price prompted me to go to another, less fractious, dairy meeting last week to hear the latest news. I was at least encouraged to hear [NFU dairy chairman] Rob Harrison state his timeline to deliver something tangible to develop producer organisations was by the end of this month. Without significant structural change and a follow-up plan to facilitate substantial investment in world beating processing we will have to accept the crumbs from under the processors’ table, so let’s hope these plans are bold and deliverable.
Preparations for the horse trials have been in full swing since we took a cut of hay off 24ha (60 acres) at the beginning of August. To create the look we wanted we have injected pig slurry – it is a bit like painting by numbers because where it lands the grass turns a deep bottle green, the problem is you can see to the splash where it does not. The new courses designed by Captain Mark Phillips are out and we are busy preparing the 125 or so fences with much sanding of logs and painting of treated timber.
I always enjoy laying the course out – there is just so much more to it than people think and I listen and try to understand the technicalities as Mark and David Evans discuss where to put each fence, depending on its shape, the angle it should be at and the distance between them, how the flowers and Christmas trees should be placed to encourage horses and where colour should be applied so the horse can see the fence profile and jump better. There is no doubt it is a game for the brave, and we were reminded of this two weeks ago when one of our livery clients fell jumping a modest height corner-shaped fence and banged her head. She is still in a coma and we wish her a full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
Phil Latham farms 385ha (950 acres) in Cheshire, split between the family farm on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate and Organsdale Farm near Tarporley. He milks 300 cows, mainly pedigree Brown Swiss, as well as diversifying into business units and an equestrian facility. He is also a Nuffield Scholar.