“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmers” – Brenda Schoepp
That quote rang true as we traveled from Scotland to England today visiting an agricultural newspapers and two beautiful farms.
Our study abroad group was fortunate enough to meet with Ben Briggs, editor of Farmers Guardian, in Preston to discuss the publication and tour the vicinity. There are about 20 editorial staff with 60 to 70 staff members as a whole company. Briggs explained that the goal of Farmers Guardian is to break down complex issues that farmers are facing and what global decisions mean for farmers. The newspaper sells about 34,000 copies of both Scottish and English editions nationally every Friday.
Afterwards, we traveled to Tamworth to meet with Rick Jones, Robert Leedham, and some of their friends and family at a little pub called White Lion. There we had a wonderful lunch consisting of roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding, roasted vegetables and cooked potatoes. Caleb and I had the opportunity to sit with Jones’ neighbors, the Gilneans who own a Holstein dairy farm with 200 head. Following lunch, we were able to choose from a selection of delicious desserts. I choose a banana spilt, which was a banana cut in half with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. I was so full that I wasn’t sure I would be able to eat dinner!
Jones and his wife let us tour their open garden and Holstein dairy operation at Haselour Grange! An open garden allows people to come to their property to explore the garden, feed the calves and look at the machinery. They own about 100 head of dairy cattle with a Hereford bull in the mix. The farm operates on a double-12 Herringbone parlor with the first milking shift occurring at 6 a.m., and the second milking shift occurring at 3:30 p.m. Cows are feed a total mix ration of chopped straw, corn and grass silage and rock salt (25% protein). A milk truck collects, on average, 3,500 liters of milk every day. Two of the major problems that dairy farmers are facing are Tuberculosis and Warble Fly. The Tuberculosis comes from badgers already infected with it while the Warble Fly goes into the back by the tall.
After visiting Jones’ farm, we went across Tamworth to Syerscote Manor where Leedham’s farm is. Leedham has a multitude of agricultural interests. He raises and releases about 500 pheasants a year. Our coach even got stuck behind a little pheasant that refused to move off the road! Leedham and his daughter also raise 166 Clifford Suffolk breeding ewes with 30 replacements. In addition to livestock, they also grow wheat, barley, oats, canola and beans. Half of their fields are wheat whereas only a quarter of it is canola, and they utilized an integrated approach by rotating the other crops. Their crops are planted in autumn, usually the last week of September/beginning of October. Due to SSSI regulations, the Leedhams are limited to what chemicals they are allowed to utilize. Exploring the farms was fun, but unfortunately, we had to head out.
Our study abroad group loaded up into the coach after thanking the Jones and Leedhams by providing them with some good ole buckeye candy, and we began our journey to Stratford-upon-Avon. Here we checked into our hotel for the night, and a group of us (including me) ate at a local pub called the Red Lion (ironic considering we ate at the White Lion earlier). Even though we have only been here for six days, tonight was by far my favorite day. Why? Well if you haven’t noticed by reading my shirt, I love dairy cattle. Being able to see a dairy farm outside of the one that I work on, and being able to talk to Jones about his dairy operation was not only incredible, but educational.
-Kaylee Jo Reed