Farmers Guradian
Topics
Nine ways to keep your farm vehicles safe

Nine ways to keep your farm vehicles safe

Arable Farming Magazine

Arable Farming Magazine

Dairy Farmer Magazine

Dairy Farmer Magazine

British Farming Awards

CropTec

LAMMA 2019

New to Farmers Guardian?
Register Now
Login or Register
New to Farmers Guardian?
Register Now
New to Farmers Guardian?
Register Now

You are viewing your 1 free article

Register now to receive 2 free articles every 7 days or subscribe for unlimited access.

Subscribe | Register

Springwatch sets up in Cotswold countryside

Springwatch has returned to BBC Two and is broadcasting live from the heart of the Cotswold countryside on the Sherborne Park Estate. Farmers Guardian meets some of the farmers who are working closely with some of the UK’s most loved wildlife.

TwitterFacebook

JOLYON LIMBRICK, HOME FARM

JOLYON LIMBRICK, HOME FARM

Jolyon Limbrick’s family has farmed on the Sherborne Park Estate for 70 years. The 33-yearold father of one is passionate about the Cotswold countryside, but honest about the hard work that goes into farming the historic estate.

 

How long have you been farming?

I was born here at Home Farm and I have been dabbling in farming since I was able to walk. But I’ve been back farming in earnest with my father for 13 years. Our family have been here for the best part of 70 years.

 

Describe Home Farm

It is a 364-hectare (900-acre) mixed farm of beef, cereals and oilseed rape. We’ve got some historic parkland, which provides most of our grazing land, and the rest is arable producing wheat, barley and rape. I think it is a magical place. The view I have from my kitchen window every morning – you almost have to pinch yourself. We have got hares and deer running across the lawn. It’s magical and it’s home.

 

What’s the best thing about being a farmer?

Being able to work in the surroundings that I work in. It’s not for everyone but if you have been born into it and it is in your blood it is very difficult to get it out of your system.

 

And the worst?

The pay and the fact it can be very unsociable. You’re fighting the weather and the best laid plans can be destroyed through weather or livestock doing something or other. Just because it’s a Sunday, it does not mean you can bank on having lunch with your friends. It might be the first decent day you’ve had and you’ve got to get on that combine harvester.

 

How are you helping wildlife at Home Farm?

We’ve just finished an Entry Level Stewardship scheme and looking at applying for the mid-tier stewardship scheme. The stewardship schemes work well with our everyday farming practice and we get a kick out of seeing the wildlife around. It does give you a real feel-good factor when you’re working in unison with wildlife. We have got a lot of headlands, field margins, we put habitat mixes in, woodlands and low inputs on grasslands.

 

What is your favourite time of year?

If I had to choose it would be spring. Everything is bursting into life; young animals, the crops are growing, the flowers are coming out and you have got all these lush greens.

 

You share the farm with your wife Lucia and two-year-old daughter Isabella. Is your toddler already a keen farmer?

Very much so – I struggle get her back in the house. Yesterday it was drizzly and I thought I’d sneak out and do the chickens without her. That was a bad move. All through the day she remembered she hadn’t done the chickens.

 

Are you hoping that she’ll take on the farm from you?

I would love it if she wanted to farm. But unless something drastically changes in the farming industry I don’t think I would actively encourage her. It’s hard work and you’ve got to love what you do. It’s a lifestyle.

MEL BRUNYEE, CONYGREE FARM

MEL BRUNYEE, CONYGREE FARM

Mother of three Mel Brunyee manages Conygree Farm on the Sherborne Park Estate with her husband Jonty. Set in an open Cotswold landscape, the farm is framed with dry stone walls, hedges and beech woodland. But the soil is a thin and stony brash – not great for growing crops but perfect for wildflowers.

 

How would you describe Conygree Farm?

We farm 75 hectares (185 acres) of species-rich limestone grassland, herb-rich ley and arable. We keep about 100 rare breed Cotswold sheep, 12 traditional Hereford cattle, and a few Gloucester Old Spot piglets each summer. All our animals eat a natural organic and pasture-fed diet of grass, wildflowers and herbs and we sell all our meat from the farm door.

 

What do you do to help wildlife on the farm?

Both of us are conservationists at heart. We believe food production doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. More than half of our farm is native wildflower-rich meadow full of orchid, ox eye daisy, birds foot trefoil and scabious. We also have two fields of herbrich ley (temporary grass) with the flowering clover and chicory providing a nectar source for bees and other invertebrates. Our fields are surrounded by wildlife margins and berry rich hedgerows. We provide fallow habitat and unharvested cereal feeding areas for a range of important farmland birds such as yellowhammer, barn owl and corn bunting. In addition, we are trying to regenerate our soil – the most important habitat on the farm.

 

Are you a member of any environmental schemes?

Most of the farm is in the Higher Level Stewardship scheme which allows us to farm in harmony with the environment. Our sheep and cattle are our conservation grazing tools. We had to pick the right breeds to make sure they will do the job and still fatten on our low input pastures. Traditional, native breeds are best for this. As well as being organic we are part of the Pasture for Life movement, we believe cattle and sheep are best fed a natural and diverse grass-based diet and not one containing imported soya and grains.

 

What’s the best thing about being a farmer?

It’s being able to be outside and being close to the things I love. Listening to the skylarks singing over the meadows makes me smile.

 

And the worst?

Not being able to switch off. If I try and relax in the garden, reading a book and enjoying the sun, I will start thinking about something that we have to do. We have to physically leave the farm to stop doing and enjoy being.

 

How did you get into farming?

Jonty is from a farming background but I’m not; I grew up in an Essex town. My brother and I would use an old pair of binoculars to spot birds in the back garden and go on bike rides looking for wildlife. We would often bring back dead things to identify and then give them a burial. I also loved the children’s programmes Animal Magic and The Really Wild Show – and the work of Sir David Attenborough. Consequently I studied for a degree in Environmental Science at UEA in Norwich and later managed the conservation grazing animals on Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves for 12 years before I joined Jonty at Conygree in 2010.

 

You’ve got three children – the youngest just five years old. Do they help on the farm?

Yes, William, 15, and Katie, 13, lend a hand with our orphan lambs and moving electric fencing. Our five-year-old, Eliza, loves coming out with me and gets stuck in, and is showing an interest in nature. I hope there is a future in the land for them one day.

PETER SUMMERS, STONES FARM

PETER SUMMERS, STONES FARM

Peter moved to Stones Farm in 1970, after a chance meeting with then Sherborne Estate owner Lord Sherborne. Grandfather to three, he has seen wild bird numbers on his Cotswold farm soar.

 

How did you get into farming?

I’ve been at Stones Farm since 1970. I was staying with a friend for the Cheltenham races and he knew Lord Sherborne, who then owned the estate. A previous tenant at Stones Farm had died and Lord Sherborne was looking for someone to take it on. And very fortunately he chose me.

 

Describe Stones Farm

It’s 210 hectares (520 acres), stretching from the A40 in the south to the River Windrush to the north. About 48.5ha (120 acres) is grazed by sheep and we grow beans, wheat and oilseed rape on 137ha (340 acres). About six years ago we started using GPS to direct the tractor. In the old days we’d have said put on two bags per acre but now we can pinpoint exactly where it can go.

 

What do you do to encourage wildlife on the farm?

We’ve been farming with nature for almost 50 years. I took the farm into a Higher Level Stewardship scheme in 2010 and I have to say it has been very good. We have 30 skylark plots out in the fields – areas about four metres square that we leave for the skylarks to land in and then nest in the surrounding crop. And we put out four tonnes of wild seed – sunflower hearts, white and red millet, wheat and oil seed rape – for the birds in the winter. The number of skylarks have doubled, linnet territories have gone from 39 to 62 since 2011 and the number of yellowhammers have increased by half. I can hear them singing when I’m out on the farm – especially now I have a hearing aid. We have done very well with the water voles on the River Windrush. They have been a huge success story thanks to the help from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, who have controlled mink on the river.

 

Why do you do it?

I have always been interested in nature and I like seeing birds on the farm. I’ve always done things like leave the doors in the yard open after I see the first swallow of the year, so they have got somewhere to nest.

 

What’s the best thing about being a farmer?

Each season is different. I’m 77 and I feel I’ve seen it all before, whereas the youngsters sometimes get worried.

 

What’s the worst thing?

It’s probably having to go out on a wet morning. Brexit is coming up, but I’m not going to give it much thought until I know more about the Government’s plan for farmers.

Springwatch webcams

  • Springwatch cameras will be positioned on key nature hotspots across the National Trust’s Sherborne Park Estate in Gloucestershire
  • Viewers will witness the behaviour and moments of these animals’ lives during each season
  • Cameras are onsite throughout the whole year for the first time
  • You can follow all the action on the four live cameras around the clock at www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch
TwitterFacebook
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

Most Recent

Facebook
Twitter
RSS
Facebook
Twitter
RSS