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Rachel Lewis-Davies: Training for all, and looking forward to the Royal Welsh Winter Fair

I have had a busy couple of weeks as a proper ‘YFC mam’, doing the washing up for the under-16 cookery team as they practised for competition day.

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The competition was held last weekend and you would be amazed what these youngsters can turn out in an hour with a couple of camping stoves.

 

Our boys got a very commendable second prize and I am pleased Lewis now knows how to poach a poussin and steam a sponge pudding. And it is not just Lewis who has been in training, as Bobby has been doing his PA1 spraying training in advance of the changes to the pesticide rules.

 

At home, the hills have been gathered and tups turned – on the whole the ewes look well but a small bunch have lost condition – a liver fluke issue we think. The Welsh Black cattle are still out in Tirabad and we hope to haul them home this week. They will have to stay out for the foreseeable future as Ceri’s dairy bulls are taking up the shed space, although I did wake this morning to find they had been across my newly laid lawn, putting a dampener one my horticultural aspirations yet again.

 

We will be at the 25th Royal Welsh Winter Fair next week where the quality of cattle on show is outstanding and the anniversary provides an opportunity for reflection.

 

Bobby thinks it was about 25 years ago we started farming. I take great pleasure telling him that in 1990 I was in fourth year of high school and running a small flock of Suffolks as I recall. What he was up to I have no idea, but Margaret Thatcher had just stood down as Prime Minister, diesel was about 40ppl at the pump and you would pay 31 pence for a pint of milk – you can get four for a pound nowadays.

 

Apparently, the beef price was 198.2p/kg and the Winter Fair supreme champion sold for £7,500. Last year’s champion sold for £6,600 and over the 25-year period in Wales we have seen almost 2,000 suckler herds disappear. I am led to believe that in Scotland, the suckler cow is treated as sacred.

 

In Wales, I wonder when it will be that the true value and wider benefits of cows will be recognised to halt the decline. But I have to say there will be one less herd again if those bullocks get onto my lawn for a second time.

 

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