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Farmer John’s February 2013 Blog

Farmer John’s February 2013 Blog

1 Feb 2013

Many years ago I was driving to Oxford with the mother of one of our able staff. I had a very young family at the time. Halfway through the…

Many years ago I was driving to Oxford with the mother of one of our able staff. I had a very young family at the time. Halfway through the journey she burst into tears with the statement “I am so worried about my daughter”. When I asked how old her daughter was …32 was the answer. In the last 8 weeks my daughter Elisabeth (36) and her husband have had their second child, sold on the business they owned, exchanged contracts on their house in Brixton and rented a flat in Barcelona to regroup. We have been part of that relocation process including, of course, storage of various things, including one saxophone, notes from a degree in Anthropology (again) and that massive slab of timber which had become their kitchen table has now returned to the place it grew.

Water seems to have featured strongly in our current farming conversations. It is amazing to see the Pang rising above East Ilsey and the great lakes on the road to Compton. All that water saturating and now stored in the chalk will feed the perennial head of the Pang with volumes of water and the life it sustains. Thames Water, meanwhile, have started work on a pipeline from Tilehurst to Curridge. Their compound is on Englefield Estate and a lot of our fields are affected by the work which is expected to last a year. Interestingly, and at great expense, our badger sets are avoided or given a wide birth, showing great respect for the accused in the TB debate.

March is always my favourite month with fresh grass growing, primroses, hedges coming into leaf, wood anemones, frogspawn and of course lots of lambs. We have a bumper crop due and had very few ewes scanned as barren. However some of our autumn planted crops have failed, and will have to replanted with spring barley. But this spring will be tinged with sadness. My boss’ wife Janey Cumber died suddenly at the end of January. She was much loved and respected in the family business. She always gave a clear sense of direction and cared about the responsibility which goes with stewarding the land, including the educational work here. She was a tireless worker in her local church and community in Oxfordshire and will be greatly missed.