Those of you who have contributed to regular columns will appreciate the alarming frequency with which the deadlines seem to come around. On occasions it can be quite challenging to find something ‘newsy’ to write – particularly in my situation – as the wife of a ‘hill peasant’ – when in the winter months life can seem like a repetitious cycle of sheep, then sleep.
This month, all the ‘news’ came even before my last submission had been printed. Bobby, just a day after running away in the truck at Yscoedreddfyn, tipped the tractor on the ice on his way over to feed the heifers in Tirabad. Luckily there has been no lasting effects – just a significant amount of broken glass, a few nasty bruises and some damaged pride. While the kids have teased him incessantly, the photos of the tractor on its side in the ditch are a stark reminder of how lucky he really was.
The other significant news has to be the publication, by Welsh Government, earlier this month of the modelling work being undertaken for the Basic Payment Scheme in Wales. It is interesting to observe that media/press continue to frame this as an upland issue when it will, in fact, impact on every farmer in Wales. Bobby, who has done the maths, thinks you will need to have had a significant amount of land in the old moorland category to be better off.
Rachel and her husband Bob, farm Yscoedreddfyn, near Brecon, Mid Wales. They bought the 109ha (270-acre) farm, which rises to 400m (1, 300ft) with common rights on Mynydd Bach Trecastle and rent a 45ha (110-acre) hill farm with grazing rights on a local MoD range. They farm 950 ewes, mainly Epynt Hardy Speckled.
On the farm we have just scanned the Epynt ewes, fluked them and brought the twins and yearlings down. At Yscoedreddfyn, the hill ewes are now on the roots and we are hoping the TB test will go clear so we can sell the Friesian bulls early next month. With the beef trade firming and the ewes to the Charollais tups lambing mid-March, we would now much rather their space than their company.
Away from the drama at home, it has been the Brecknock YFC Drama Festival and I have had the pleasure of watching a number of excellent pantomime performances. Of course I particularly enjoyed Trecastles’ Hansel and Gretel and was surprised and delighted that Lewis’ performance earned him a nomination in the best actor under 18 category. But then, on reflection, I have to acknowledge he has had plenty of practice with some of his term-time, weekday early morning performances feigning illness or injury proving very convincing indeed.