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Farmer John’s October ’14 Blog

Farmer John’s October ’14 Blog

27 Nov 2015

It is well known that farming is a way of life. What is less well known is that, like a drug, it is heavily addictive, and you feel tied to the land. So it was with courage and conviction that we drove off west into the sunset at the beginning of October, a caravan in tow, to begin our retirement. News that the jet stream had shifted south heralding the end of September’s record breaking weather did not deter us. I left my Farmers Weekly unopened and handed over keys, machinery, buildings, stock, land and all those records into the safe and capable hands of Stephen Waters. Stephen is 26 and has entered into a share farming arrangement with the owner William Cumber. His family have farmed locally for years and after qualifying from Sparsholt, he has mainly worked with his father with their flock, at the same time building a business contracting. He was chairman of Bradfield Young Farmers and has very good relations with the local farming community. He is well able and qualified to take over the farming at Rushall Farm. Our education work under the John Simonds Trust, based at Rushall Manor, is to continue. We are staying at the farm house, with responsibilities for the John Simonds Trust, the woodlands and the land in Cumber ownership at Theale.
We first came to Bradfield to look at the farm in October 1973. We were working and living on the windswept Berkshire Downs behind Blewbury. William Cumber was a university friend. He took us around the farm, describing in detail how difficult it was to grow crops successfully on clay caps, plateau gravel and sandy outcrops. Lindsay and I just looked at the stunning autumn colours and the beautiful landscape of the Pang Valley. We were smitten. He was right, but what a privilege it has been to steward this patch of England for the last 41 years.