Tuesday, 21 December 2010

For Flock's Sake - Please Let it End .....

One of the few books I’ve read more than once is “The Farming Ladder” by George Henderson.  I liked it so much, I named my Nuffield Scholarship study after it.  Oddly - even though there is so much wisdom within his book's cover - I would have hated to meet George.  He seemed to be incredibly opinionated, self-satisfied and humourless.  Yet he left a book to the world that - almost 70 years on - will still be inspirational to some and was, certainly, to me.

One thing he spoke of ... which was, in many ways, totally out of character to his normally practical and coldly objective attitude .... was of a spiritual connection with sheep.  If I’m weirding you out skip this next bit and go to the even weirder next post.
He described a couple of occasions of significant spiritual liaisons with sheep and sharing them with other shepherds.  Even though sheep became of less and less significance to his business, he described the overwhelming contentedness he felt like no other in farming ... when he knew all was well with his flock.
I can identify with this.  And I reckon even alot of proper stockmen might.  You feel uneasy when all is not well.  Every now and then you act on a gut feeling and think its weird because there was something a bit psychic to it (obviously I imagine this and it is simply coincidence but I like the idea).
The flock now has not seen grass for 4 weeks.  The Met Office keep teasing about a thaw but it never comes.  I’m not a real farmer - no tractor, don’t make silage, no shed.  My mission is to operate with very little fixed costs hence - no tractor, don’t make silage, no shed.  Its times like these, unlikely to be repeated,  extreme conditions, that you wish your fixed costs were extravagant and thus the sheep were happy.  Its like torture relying so heavily on something you can't control. Please let it end, please let the thaw come, please let them see grass, please let all be well with the flock once again.
To prove there is a special relationship between Shepherd and his Sheep, one of my flock gave me the following yesterday .....


Fiona said...

Michael, as you know I stumbled on this blog and tonight sat down to take a closer look. I have just finished reading it all. It's now way past my bed time. I love it! Hannah Montanna will be rented from Blockbuster this weekend, my sis in law recorded the WRONG scores when she was asked to convene a class at Perth Show, 10 years ago – they haven't needed her help since. Andrew and I worked for a very lovely first generation farmer in WA in 1996. The prices were high and the barley was a bumper yield that year so Frances was hoping to buy his first block of land when we left for home. But he still gave us a bonus and loaned us his car for a post harvest holiday. We've always wondered what happened next?
I'm a Mum so won't be travelling far or participating in any scholarships this decade but I've really enjoyed reading all about your experiences and the people you've met. I think the blog has been hiding under a bushel for too long, please release it! It may be uncomfortable for some established farmers to read but most farming folks know how difficult it is to make a generational business work so will probably share your enthusiasm and empathise too? Maybe it will serve as a reminder to some to count their blessings. As a part time shepherdess who is scared of committing to full time farming it's made me think again. (Especially as my pro rata earnings are similar to those you turned down). Anyway I think your friends in Devon would say it's time to market this creation, it doesn't need supported by an intravenous dose of SFP or a capital injection just sending the link to the firendly lifestyle editor of TSF, Karen Carruth might work and is it on Twitter where NFUS, QMS, etc etc can follow it easily? Create a stir, each and every farming business in Scotland could be more profitable and more entrepreneurial and your stuff is fun and motivational to help us all reach for the stars. Good Luck! See you for NVZ calcs in Feb. Fiona

Michael Blanche .... bless said...

Hi Fiona / Literary Agent - Forgot to say I still wonder whether I should have just taken that job - it was more the shock at the crushed unrealistic expectations! TSF contacted but still trying to get my head round twitter. I heard there were very few first generation guys in WA - you should chase Frances up see if he's one of a very select few! Thanks again for the encouragement!