Opinion

Opinion

FARMING MATTERS: A return to horse riding

When I was a teenager I rode all the time, in fact when I was younger I actually pretended to be a horse. I trotted as I pulled my father’s golf caddy around the course, and set up cavaletti jumps in our garden. My sister used to refuse to walk to school with me because I insisted on walking like a horse. As a teen I worked in the nearby riding stables and was also fortunate to have two friends with several horses who used to let me ride them in exchange for helping to look after them. And so I guess it was obvious that a lot of people imagined I would get a horse of my own when I married a farmer. Wrong.

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Farming Matters.  Tree work in the garden. Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

FARMING MATTERS: Doing a spot of gardening

At this time of year the ground is usually too wet to do work involving heavy machinery, but we’ve had a pretty dry autumn and so my husband decided this was a perfect time to do some work in the garden.

Opinion
Big tractors like these have changed the face of modern arable farming

FARMING MATTERS: Massive machinery is changing the face of modern agriculture

We don’t have a lot of arable land, therefore we have always used a contractor to harvest our crops. It wouldn’t make sense to fork out for an expensive combine harvester that is used on only a handful of occasions each year to harvest relatively small amounts of wheat, barley and beans.

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Farmers' wives have to be self sufficient

FARMING MATTERS: Self sufficient farmers wives

I wrote recently about farm safety and the importance of farmers staying in touch with their wives via mobile phone due to the isolation of their work. But that isolation doesn’t just apply to farmers themselves. All farming families are isolated to a degree, some more than others depending on the location of their farm. Children fortunately find company and socialisation at school and in organisations like the Young Farmers federation. Farmers’ wives of old traditionally stayed at home working on the farm or in the house, but that stereotype disappeared a long time ago. Many farm wives now follow their own careers off the farm, bringing them into contact with other people on a daily basis. But what about contact with their husband? Unless farmers’ wives DO work on the farm alongside their husbands, regular contact can be pretty sporadic. I’ve been checking out some blogs online from farm wives around the world and the one thing we all seem to have in common is spending evenings and weekends without our husbands who are outdoors 24/7; attending social occasions and family events without our husbands; and often feeling like a one parent family. So it appears that at least two of the qualities required for life as a farmer’s wife is a large dose of self sufficiency and an interest in hobbies and activities that don’t require a partner!

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A dairy farmer milking his herd. Photo Louise Adams

FARMING MATTERS: Milk prices are not fair to farmers

Market indicators show dairy farmers are being short changed to the tune of £200 million pounds, says the National Farmers Union (NFU).

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A mobile phone can be a great asset for farmers who work in isolation

FARMING MATTERS: Staying safe on the farm

Staying safe at work is something we all have to consider,but for farmers there are more hazards in the workplace than for most of us.

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Meeting of farmers and NFU with MP:  from left host farmer Nigel Stacey, Nigel Richards, Mark Lancaster MP and Tom Deeley

FARMING MATTERS: Future of farming discussed in talks

Farmers have updated their MP on the issues of current importance to the agricultural community.

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Backing British farming

FARMING MATTERS: Back British Farming Day was held this week

Wednesday (September 14) was Back British Farming Day and the industry took root in the capital to reach out to MPs to sign the NFU’s Back British Farming pledge.

Opinion
National Farmers Union president Meurig Raymond speaking to our columnist Heather Jan Brunt last year

FARMING MATTERS: Guaranteed support for farmers following Brexit

The guarantee by the Treasury that farming will continue to be financially supported by the British government up to 2020 in the wake of Brexit has given much needed clarity to farmers, and this is welcomed by the National Farmers Union (NFU).The news should mean that farmers can count on receiving financial aid for, amongst other things, agri-environmental schemes already in place, to take them through to their conclusion.

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The late 6th Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor

FARMING MATTERS: The death of the Duke of Westminster

The landed and titled aristocracy of our country is very much a feature of our nation’s history, and like many people I have very mixed feelings about it.

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File picture

Dozens of drivers caught speeding on Wellingborough estate

Dozens of drivers were caught breaking the speed limit during checks carried out on a housing estate in Wellingborough.

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Countryfile Live will take place at Blenheim Palace during August 2016

Countryfile Live is now on at Blenheim Palace

Countryfile is one of the most popular programmes on television and the very first Countryfile Live opened at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire on Thursday.

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Cows and calves. Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

FARMING MATTERS: Filming down on the farm

Since he joined the technology age and became the proud owner of his own laptop, one of the things my husband loves to do is to go onto YouTube and watch videos from farmers around the world.

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FARMING MATTERS: Farming life after Brexit

I have been asked by many people to comment on Brexit, and I really would love to. But I write this column some time ahead of publication and with things on the political landscape changing on a daily basis ever since the EU referendum result, it is hard to write with any confidence, as things could change before this is published.

Opinion
Hot air balloon on a field of hay.  Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

FARMING MATTERS: Rain stops hay making

Well it’s been a soggy start to the summer and that hasn’t helped with the haymaking.

Opinion
Glastonbury 2015. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire PPP-150410-140949001

FARMING MATTERS: Ideas for diversifying

Farmers have been encouraged for years to diversify in order to make ends meet. For a long time the ideas were pretty standard - opening up your home to B&B guests, DIY liveries for horse owners, creating a space for a few touring caravans, opening a farm shop or converting buildings into units.

Opinion
Heather Jan Brunt's brother-in-law and husband enjoying a family get together in Wales.  Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

FARMING MATTERS: Taking a road trip to Wales

All the time I have known my husband he has been a beef farmer, but his childhood was very different as his father was a dairy farmer and life revolved around the twice daily milking of the cows in the parlour. This had to be done whatever the weather, whatever the day, and however the farmer and herdsman were feeling.

Opinion
Farmer's wife Heather Jan Brunt dislikes Brussels interference in British farm businesses

FARMING MATTERS: Brexit is best for many farmers says our columnist

There is a misconception that all farmers must be in favour of remaining in the EU because of subsidies. This is wrong.

Farmers received grants from our own government prior to our entry into the Common Market, as it was then called, and agriculture will remain as a supported industry in the event of Brexit.

This is because it is food, rather than farmers, which is subsidised, to keep retail prices at a level the general public is happy with.

Many British farmers have suffered hugely within the EU. We are subjected to endless red tape and instructions on how to run our business. An example of this is the current Three Crop Rule.

Brussels has dictated that any farmer with more than 30 hectares in arable production must grow three different crops. This was brought in by a Romanian commissioner because in Romania there are areas where thousands of hectares grow the same crop, and he wanted to encourage a wider range.

Crop diversity has never been a problem in Britain, but because in the EU everyone has to follow the same rule, British farmers can no longer choose the number of crops to grow in any one year that best suits their business, land and changing weather patterns.

I have placed Brexit The Movie on this page. It is a documentary of over one hour that shows we no longer live in a democracy, our own parliament is little more than a parish council and we are ruled by the whims and fancies of nameless un-elected bureaucrats from Brussels. You might find it interesting to watch.

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JOHN GRIFF: Grab your opportunities and accept the challenge

JOHN GRIFF: Grab your opportunities and accept the challenge

When were you last challenged to do something? Really taken out of your comfort zone and given something to do that put you into an area with which you were so unfamiliar that you could feel the adrenaline going round your body in your blood?

Opinion
Aynho Apricots

DAVID SAINT: Remarkable tradition of rare Northamptonshire fruit

I see that our local celebrity cleric is soon to become a celebrity chef, although he admits he’s no Escoffier!

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