I was billeted with a delightful farming family close to Jedburgh. They had moved to Scotland some 20 years ago having previously farmed near Guildford. Within minutes of arriving I was whisked around the farm by my kind host on a lightening tour of his various enterprises.
The 400 acres had been fairly run down and the buildings badly neglected when they took it on. I was hugely impressed to see how enterprising they have been to create what is now a very profitable farm.
Guy supplies Sainsbury with Free Range Organic Eggs from around 14 thousand Columbian Blacktail hens in partnership with some neighbours. The hens were happily roaming over a field of red organic clover. Aberdeen Angus Beef are reared and fattened and also sold to Sainsbury at what I consider an enviable premium price.
Pheasants are reared for direct supply to local butchers and caterers and Philippa runs a B & B as well as keeping Kune Kune pigs for bacon and sausages and keeps the odd Llama. They certainly run a thriving and busy business, and have made a great success of this now beautiful and productive farm.
Spring barley is also grown that is harvested up to 19% moisture which goes directly to a local distillery, this is convenient as there is no long term storage or drying facilities. Mind you, I hardly think a distillery will be too troubled by a bit of moisture!
The soil is enviably fertile and without too much trouble Guy regularly combines well over four tons of wheat to the acre, something I can only dream about on our grade 3 heavy weald clay.
My god daughter’s wedding was glorious; a wonderful occasion which at times was spell binding. The bride looked stunning and managed to take our breath away by singing during dinner, a performance which would wow any West End audience and left the groom amazed and emotionally speechless, which I suspect is a first as he is a very accomplished speaker being one of David Cameron’s more experienced and mature intake of new MPs!
Later we watched an incredible firework display which lit up the beautiful gardens at Monteviot which are a tribute to past and present members of the family who have poured love and much hard work into the design and enhancement of this celebrated local attraction, which is the pride and joy of the bride’s father. The arousing musical accompaniment was original and complimented the spectacle of the dramatic exhibition of fireworks.
Flying home on Sunday morning I was brought back to reality as I spotted mile after mile of uncut wheat across Kent and Sussex as we approached Gatwick. Let us hope the weather forecast for the coming week is correct when it predicts a much needed high slipping across the country, hopefully bringing some respite from the recent rain, which we desperately need to complete the harvest which seems to have been going on for weeks.
Last Monday our Polish students arrived to help harvest the Bramley apples. They are enthusiastic workers who return year after year; many are mature students training to be medics, lawyers and accountants. Each year they bring along a few fresh faces to replace former colleagues who have dropped by the wayside as they complete their education and gain qualifications and jobs which now take priority over apple picking.
It is always good to see them but each year I am disappointed that we cannot attract enough local help despite the above average unemployment in nearby Hastings. It would appear that taking unemployment benefits is still more attractive than doing a worthwhile job out in the fresh air and helping the local economy. I sincerely hope that the present government will fast forward their plans to make such work financially attractive and rewarding for our nationals. The present system and red tape is hardly encouraging.
Carola Godman Law