Dairy farmers are struggling to harvest maize to feed their cattle over winter. There have been many incidents of tractors and foragers getting stuck up to their axles, requiring the help of several tractors to pull them out of the mud.
Our cattle are now tucked up in the barn as the fields were in danger of becoming poached, particularly around the feeders. They are cosy and dry, bedded down in deep straw litter and munching away on sweet smelling meadow hay.
The UK beef market is sluggish with prices fairly dismal. It is frustrating that despite finding international customers wanting to import our beef, we are unable to proceed with supplying their markets due to the lack of abattoirs which conform to AVA Certification, to enable us to export into receptive markets, specifically in our case Singapore.
We have the customers wanting Ote Hall grass fed Sussex beef, but we are being hampered by the lack of investment in local abattoirs. This is a crazy situation which urgently needs addressing.
It is all very well for the Agricultural Bill to be packed full of well intentioned ‘environmental’ platitudes, but if the agricultural industry is to stand on its own two feet, funding should be a priority to upgrade abattoirs to a standard which ensures we can compete on a level playing field with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
Our local grass fed beef is far superior to the mass produced beef from these countries and the demand for UK produce is substantial.
David Ades came to work for my mother at Ote Hall Farm in 1977. He had spent most of his life farming in and around Rye and Hastings, and there was little David did not know about beef cattle, Sussex Cattle in particular.
He spent the best part of 28 years running the farm with John, who is happily still with us. David retired at the age of 65 in 2005, when he moved from the farm cottage to a house he had bought some years earlier with his late wife Angie, in Burgess Hill.
For several years after his retirement we would see him daily as he came to tend his vegetable garden which he continued to keep in the old walled garden. When David eventually gave that up due to ill health, we kept in touch and he would always join us at Christmas for our annual gathering of past and present Ote Hall team members, and their families.
Last year David moved to a care home in Hastings which he enjoyed and where he was closer to his family. He sadly died in January, his funeral was held at Hastings Crematorium.
On Sunday we celebrated David’s life, and his time at Ote Hall. His family and friends gathered to remember him in the field beside his old cottage, still referred to as David’s cottage. The ceremony was conducted by our vicar the Reverend Christopher Powell, and his ashes scattered close to his old home, on the farm he loved and helped to manage for many years.
This happy although poignant occasion was followed by tea and many stories and anecdotes about David, Angie and their much loved dogs Sammy and Ollie.
David’s last words to me when we visited shortly before he died were: “I have had a wonderful life, and I have absolutely no regrets”. A sentiment I believe most of us hope to share as our lives draw to a close.
Just eight days until Independence Day!