We have taken on enough farms over the years to know that, following a period of high spirits and elation at the beginning, reality starts to dawn.
This reality can be characterised, in a nutshell, as ‘hard work and no money’ and, for us, there is a growing sense the honeymoon is now over at Yscoedreddfyn.
We try to remain upbeat. The farm is sound and we have had an excellent growing season going into winter with a decent cover of grass, 12ha (30 acres) of tidy root crops and good reserves of fodder. We are now down to the last 100 lambs and the hogs will go to tack any day. We turned 400 ewes to Charollais tups last week and will turn the hill ewes at the end of next week.
The Welsh Black heifers are doing well and we have started them on silage to hold their condition. We keep chucking the food at Ceri’s Friesian bulls and they look well enough too – though Bobby, thoroughly patronised after this week’s episode, is thinking of inviting the Countryfile team out to see if they can advise on the efficiency of our business.
Perhaps they can also tell us why, as an industry, we are selling our lamb for nearly half what it was earlier in the year while the retail price of lamb has been fairly constant throughout?
But I have long believed it is ‘better to light a candle than curse the darkness’ so the d-word (diversification) has crept in again and we start considering options for developing alternative income streams.
Glastir is an obvious option, the entry application has gone in followed by the expression of interest for advanced. However, any scheme which diminishes our productive capacity should be met by a firm ‘no’ in my view.
Wider streams of income must also be considered and while I reluctantly accept my skill set does not predispose me to a role in the hospitality/tourism industry, we do have excellent resources for renewables. Alas, not in the National Park.
The reality for us, like many in the hills, is diversification options are limited in the extreme, even if we did have the money. Of course I am reminded, we have in fact, already diversified – like farms up and down the country the main form of diversification is sending the wife out to work.