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Tony Shepherd and John Henderson: Getting straight for the New Year start


John and I had a meeting just before Christmas to put us on a straight edge with the paperwork for the New Year, with the main items being sharing the Single Farm Payment (initially paid into my account as I am the one registered with Defra) and the usual winter feed bills.

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Being up-to-date with the figures is even more important now as John’s farm account year end is January 31 (different to mine which highlights that our businesses are separate). Ted Ogden, from Craven Cattle Marts, is employed to value to the live and dead stock on the farm at January 31, so John can incorporate his percentage in his accounts. When finalised we use these figures to discuss variations from previous years and the reasons why.


With the dawn of the New Year we are now officially in the new CAP regime, but I do not think I am alone in finding it difficult keeping up with changes and am pleased to have John to share this. Hopefully we will find our way through the thick fog.


With the store cattle due to go down the race to be fluked and wormed, the scales are being serviced so the cattle can be weighed and gains recorded. Although this will vary between animals, I find the average weight gain across each bunch is a good indication of their performance. Some barley has been added to the protein pellet which was being fed on top of the silage to make it more appealing.


We are hoping to sell some big steers which are ready for the next man to finish shortly, followed by a trip north to try and restock the shed with cattle to be kept for the next 12 months; the gap between the selling and buying price hopefully will be enough to give us a return for our efforts.


Apparently John’s New Year resolution is to keep the office filing up-to-date, and a couple of quiet days after Christmas allowed for a real start. He discovered the most used filing cabinet was the shredder, proving that, if you leave things long enough, they become out-of-date and folk will always chase for those things which matter.


Finally, when we were musing as to what this year might hold, John said he is now a disciple of the gospel of Allan Wilkinson of HSBC – the one thing we can be sure of is volatility, most often caused by factors and circumstances well out of our immediate control.


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