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G.M.Hunter Ltd.

Tilbrook Grange

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Winner Best local product


Winner of

Devon Cattle Breeders Herd Competition 2016


August 17

By jameshunter1, Jan 7 2018 08:23PM

Life up on the farm (by James Hunter)

I start this report about something that happened up here nearly two months ago. For 21 years we have hosted an amateur radio hams competition. The group of enthusiasts call themselves The Bedfordshire Radio Hams Gentlemen. The name is not quite accurate as one comes down from Scotland every year. They like our field as we are high and the land falls away to the east. This helps them in the international competition to get connections into Europe. They spend a lot of time making their radios and equipment in preparation for annual competition. They arrive after a local liquid lunch and spend 24 hours getting ready for the next 24 hours of competition. I don’t usually hear from them after the event until the Christmas card arrives. But this year Roger, an octogenarian, who has played radios all his life won his frequency section. He made more contacts with other hams than anyone else. My congratulations to him. (Photo attached)

Naturally the most important thing to report is that harvest is all safely gathered in. It was an early start with the oil seed rape, and then it rained on St Swithin’s day. It then became very difficult to get the winter barley in because of the wet spell. We spent the next three weeks snatching every opportunity to get more grain into the store. We lost quite a bit of barley as it was well ripe & on the ground.

The combine went very well and we lost no time for any breakdown. The weather remained catchy while we battled away with the wheat. We have capacity to get a lot done when the conditions are favourable, and we have done it all before in tricky years. It was the 70th harvest the family have done at Tilbrook Grange.

We broke a record with the combine and I have a print out from the combine showing 106 acres combined in a day! How things have changed. I remember my father telling me years ago they went all day and all night and got 24 acres done. They would not have got the yield we get today but would have got more of a sweat from the manual effort needed.

The yields and some of the quality are a little disappointing, but I will say average. I have been criticised in the past for saying stonking yields, but they were good!

The cattle have had a good summer. The grass (like your lawn) has not stopped growing. They have all had plenty to eat all summer and have done well. We started calving a fortnight ago and can hardly keep count of what has arrived. I don’t think there has been a day without a new arrival. After the calves have been inside for weighing & tagging they are put in another field. This means a journey across the road. I attach a picture of how we do it. The calf is put in a crate on the loader. The cow can easily see her calf and follows very closely to the grass field. (photo attached)

We entered the breed herd competition again this year, hoping to retain the title of best herd in the country. The result was announced this morning. The winning herd this year is back in Devon! But we came second and retained the best herd out of the South West. Another very good result.

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