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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


December 17

By jameshunter1, Jan 7 2018 08:50PM

Life up on the farm (by James Hunter)

As we start a new year I thought that I would begin with a little reflection on 2017. It has been a challenging year. Anything done outside is controlled by our boss, nature & the weather. The rainfall this year deserves a mention. Overall the year is bang on the average but there have been considerable monthly variations. April only recorded 6mm, average 41mm, this meant the crops didn’t get hold of the spring fertiliser as they should have done. There was a good hot dry spell in June when we cracked on and made some very good hay. Those that didn’t get their winter fodder in early were set back by the 99mm of rain in July. It was the wettest July since I started my records way back in the last millennium. As a consequence hay & straw prices are currently very high making it very difficult for those having to buy in animal food. We have taken advantage of the shortage & the weak sterling & have been sending hay to Belgium. My school French was tested as one lorry driver spoke no English!

Later in the year the dry October, just a quarter of the 63mm average, helped with the autumn drilling. All crops went in well and look in very good health at the moment. But there is a long way to go. An old saying is “ Well sown is half grown”. (photo of December snow) Naturally I will keep you updated.

Sadly some parts of the country have had much more testing conditions and they are struggling as we go into winter. There workload & costs are going to be considerably higher.

I didn’t have space to report Tilbrook Elegant in November. She is a rare example of prolific breeding, born 23rd August 2003. 2016 she produced twins. She is the oldest cow on the farm but in good condition so was given the chance to give us another calf. Well she surprised us again. Another set of twins in November, 2 bull calves. She is now rearing calves no 12 & 13. (Photo attached) She earned a picture & report in the breed newsletter and has challenged the society members so find a cow that has done better!

The shop has had another good year selling quality beef to local individuals, restaurants and shops. If you haven’t ventured up here yet, please consider us next time. We have the whole animal to sell, most butchers buy in the trade what they expect to sell. We do many old fashioned and obscure cuts as Ranch, Feather & Flat Iron steak. On the bone we do Prime Rib, short rib & tail! We have sold so much of the hind quarter in the run up to Christmas we are again going to have another January burger sale. This moves the slower cooking cuts which are not so popular on the Christmas table.

Finally I wish my readers a very Happy New year and thank you for the comments from those who mention my reports. If you want enlightening on any specific farming topics in the future please drop me a note & I will try. (excluding the unknown Brexit!)

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