The Agrifac Faux Paus

16:55

With a female NFU President, an all-female NFYFC Council and the number of women getting involved in farming on the rise, 2019 looks like it could be a really promising year for women in agriculture. However, we're not even two weeks into 2019 yet (Happy New Year by the way!) and there has already been a lot of controversy about the way women are seen in the Agricultural industry.

 
LAMMA took place last week, always a popular event in many farmers' calendars, and I'm sure many of you will have seen the discussion caused by the Agrifac stand, in particular, the two PR girls hired by them to promote and draw attention to the company - and they did just that. The buzz generated by this advertisement tactic has seen a huge response from people in the farming industry and outside of it but not a particularly positive one. There have been lots of people reminding us that it's the girls' choice to be there promoting the company in that way and I'm not one to knock down anyone - male or female - that is trying to break into the agricultural industry. However, I don't honestly think that Agrifac had them there to promote the work that women do in farming and represent that sector of the industry and if they were it definitely wasn't the way to do it. 

Personally, I see it as extremely outdated to have scantily clad cheerleaders in cheap Go-Go dancer boots fronting the stand and this definitely segregates women from the employees at Agrifac who I'm sure were there to answer technical enquiries and do the real selling and promotion. Perhaps Agrifac had some women also working on the stand that were available to discuss the products however this has definitely not been seen by the media - in my opinion missing a great opportunity to promote diversity and modern thinking. 

Women absolutely have the right to have any career they wish, and with that wear anything they want and I support the choice of the girls to follow this career, I just think it was a tacky way for Agrifac to promote machinery at an agricultural event and the attention generated didn't show farming in its best light. As many other industries are making a great effort to move away from this way of objectification to gain attention it may reflect poorly on the agricultural industry at a time when we need all the positive attention and support we can get.

Simply put, I think that Agrifac missed out on an opportunity to make some changes and support the future of Ag and those involved in it and although they may have gained a lot of media exposure, myself and I'm sure many others will now remember their name as one that is not moving with the times.

On a bigger scale... 

Did you know: 
- Female farmers are 8% of the world's population
- In developing countries only 10-20% of landowners are women
- In most countries the share of women with small farms who have access to credit is 5-10% lower than for men which makes it harder for women to buy fertilisers
- Women are less likely to own large farm animals 
- Closing the gender gap could increase yields in developing countries by up to 4% - potentially reducing the number of undernourished people by 130 million

This is why it is so important to support women in farming and encourage new entrants - in all countries. If we start by fixing the small problems the bigger ones will come next.

*This was not meant to belittle or disrespect anyone and I apologize for any offence caused I merely wanted to share my opinion!

Christmas Traditions

17:00

It’s Christmas Eve-Eve, our Christmas baking is done, the presents are wrapped and the shops are full of people frantically scanning the aisles for anything they might have forgotten to stock up on for Christmas.

I thought I’d share some of my favourite Christmas traditions for the festive period in case you need something to spur you on into the Christmas mood in these next few days.

In December one of our big Christmas traditions is doing the Christmas presents for the kids in Acorns Children's Hospice. It's always a heartwarming time, we spend the year fundraising with midlandscooters and then take the presents to the hospice with Santa to visit the children, it wouldn't feel like Christmas without doing it now as we have been doing it for so many years. 


In the week before Christmas we have so much to get ready, we usually spend a couple of days baking and preparing the Ukranian food we eat alongside our traditional Christmas dinner. This year we made 6 Christmas Puddings, 36 Mince Pies, 86 Butter Tarts (like Mince Pies but better), 120 Icebox Cookies (like a gingerbread), and 100 decorated Shortbread Biscuits to share with friends and family over Christmas! This always gets us in a festive mood in the run up to Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we used to always have a Christmas party for friends and family but in the last few years with my sisters both getting married and sharing Christmas between our family and their in-laws we’ve scaled down and now just have the immediate family over. We always cook a joint of pork to have in baps and make a spinach loaf as well as lots of other snacks. It’s safe to say that Christmas is heavily dependent on food in our house, but we love to have Christmas Eve together as a family.

Christmas Day is a relaxed one, this year just one of my sisters and her husband are staying with us but we will pop round to visit my other sister and her family after we’ve had breakfast and opened our presents. Then we will have Christmas dinner at home, probably watch some Christmas movies and the Queen’s speech and demolish a box of chocolates.

Boxing day usually consists of a visit to my Aunty’s house, where we sometimes have a cold lunch and have a gathering with some more family, but this year we will be taking some turkey sandwiches and going hunting! I can’t wait as it’s usually a great day out hunting with a big field and lots of followers.

I’m sure that every family does Christmas so differently, so however you’re spending your Christmas, I hope that you have a fantastic time and get some relaxing in there somewhere!

Merry Christmas!

Lord Mayors Show 2018

14:54

Last weekend I went to London to take part in the Lord Mayors Show with the Worshipful Company of Farmers, the National Farmers Union, Massey Ferguson and the Red Tractor.


I was selected as one of the 8 Young Farmers chosen by the NFU to represent the different areas of the UK, as a Worcestershire Young Farmer I was proud to be representing the West Midlands. All of the other young farmers that were chosen were really lovely and so passionate about being a part of the industry and the products they produce.



We went down to London on Friday morning and had a briefing to attend in the afternoon at the Guildhall to give us some information about the parade so we would know where to go and what to do at various points throughout the day.



After the safety briefing we had some time before dinner to get ready and have a drink in the bar, we also received our jackets for the parade kindly sponsored by Massey Ferguson and a load of other Massey Ferguson goodies.



Then we headed over to the Paternosters Pub for our dinner hosted by Massey Ferguson. My dinner was delicious and it was great to meet some of the others that would be in the parade with us. We enjoyed a few drinks with our meal before heading back to the hotel to get some rest before the parade.


On Saturday we were up early, ready to carry over the last of the props for our float all decked out in our new coats and accessories. It was quite the sight when we arrived at the spot the Massey Ferguson Ideal 9T Combine and the tractor had been brought to much earlier in the morning. You don't see a piece of kit like that on the streets of London every day! Hats off to the guys that drove them in the parade.



We then had some time for a photo session and we met our Marshall before the parade set off at 11 O’Clock.


The actual parade was an amazing experience, it was so great to see people on the streets supporting British agriculture and to see their faces when the tractor and combine turned the corner. We had great fun communicating with the crowds and interacting with people we saw along the way.



Overall I had a fantastic weekend spreading the message to back British farming and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to take part in the Lord Mayors Show! Thank you to everyone who made it possible for us to be there, including the organizers of the parade that fed all 7000 participants lunch!


Keeping Animals Safe on Bonfire Night

12:10


I’m sure lots of people attended bonfires and firework displays over the weekend, and they will be a regular occurrence from now until New Year's Eve with Diwali and other festivals taking place, but for those with pets or livestock, you will know that fireworks can be an extremely stressful time for animals.

Sadly, it only takes a quick search online about animals on bonfire night and you will be faced with several articles about animals that have died from stress or panic caused by overexposure to fireworks.

There are some really useful tips out there to help you calm your animals down during the fireworks so I thought I’d share a few links to check out and pick out a few of my favourite tips I’ve read.

For dogs, it has been recommended to take them on a long walk or play with them lots before the fireworks begin to tire them out, this way hopefully they will sleep through the majority of them and will be less stressed out as a result. Leaving on the TV or radio for background noise so that the loud bangs are masked slightly may help. But importantly, closing the curtains and making a safe, quiet space for your dogs will make them feel more relaxed.

Cats tend to be more independent, so making sure your cats have quiet hiding places where they will feel safe is important. Also make sure to bring in your cats in plenty of time before the fireworks start and shut all external doors and windows to reduce the risk of them escaping, as the loud bangs may cause them to try and flee, so keeping them safe at home is your best bet.

Small furry animals may also be affected by the fireworks, particularly if they are kept outside, so if possible bring them inside. Make sure they have plenty of bedding to bury in, covering part of their cages with a blanket or towel make a darker environment and helps to soundproof their cage partially.

There are lots more tips for household pets that you can check out here: https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/keep-pets-calm-fireworks-thunder-2171561 including Chromotherapy and Aromatherapy to calm them.

Horses and livestock are particularly vulnerable during fireworks displays as they are often kept inside. The BHS has a list of tips to help your horses stay calm, including playing music from a radio to mask the noise, this may be helpful with housed livestock as well. They recommend staying with your horse if you know when there will be fireworks going off. Also checking the stable or field they will be in to make sure that there are no nails, protruding objects or loose haynets that they could potentially injure themselves on.

If you are able to, speaking to your neighbours beforehand and asking them if they have plans to set off fireworks, and if so if they could direct them away from your fields or buildings could be helpful. Even checking the local papers, newsletters and radio stations can help you be more prepared for any fireworks displays that may be happening.
There is more information available here: https://www.bhs.org.uk/advice-and-information/riding-out/common-incidents/fireworks from the BHS although there are lots more sources available!
It goes without saying that if you are planning on having a bonfire, you should be mindful of others and do what you can to reduce the risk. Letting farmers know about fireworks displays or having a conversation about what could be done to reduce the trauma caused can be really helpful.

And if you’re having a bonfire, always check the leaves and woodpile for hedgehogs or other small animals that may be hibernating!

Love British Food at the Universal Cookery & Food Festival 2018

17:40

I was asked to go to the Universal Cookery & Food Festival last week to talk to chefs about the Love British Food campaign. As I’m sure you know already we are currently in the middle of British Food Fortnight (22nd September - 7th October) celebrating all things British food and encouraging people to choose British food wherever possible.

The Universal Cookery & Food Festival was launched in 2012 and changes location each year, allowing chefs all over the country to network with farmers, producers, and suppliers within the industry.

I had never been to an event like this so went with a really open mind and I thought it was a fantastic day. It was set up really well for everyone attending to get the most out of it regardless of what your area of interest was.

We set out bright and early to get our station set up and when we arrived at Westlands in Evesham, where the event was being held, the organizers of the event were very helpful and we soon had our table all set up. The other exhibitors around us were so friendly and it was a great chance to learn about lots of different initiatives within the food industry.

It was really encouraging speaking to lots of the chefs at the event as so many of them were really passionate about using British ingredients wherever possible.
Chef Brad Carter from Carters of Moseley has a 99.9% British menu so it was fantastic to speak to him about the campaign.

Chefs Gareth & Nathan from Ynyshir in Wales were also really passionate about using local food - particularly utilising some of the fantastic rare breeds we have available.

Chef Dean Hoddle from Silverstone was also really enthusiastic about using British food in his restaurant.

So many other chefs and delegates approached us to talk to us about British food too which was amazing to see!


We were of course kept fed to the highest standard all day and there were lots of talks and debates ongoing throughout the whole day.

I would definitely reccomend it if you have the opportunity to go next year!
If you want to know more about Love British Food and how to get involved in British Food Fortnight visit: http://www.lovebritishfood.co.uk/british-food-fortnight/what-is-british-food-fortnight?

If you want to know more about the Universal Cookery & Food Festival and how to get involved next year visit: https://www.cookeryandfoodfestival.co.uk/

Rydale Wrelton Snaffle Loafer Review

15:36

A few Christmases ago I had some new deck shoes from Orca Bay and they quickly became my most worn pair of shoes. However they have been on some major journeys with me - not least surviving AGM in Blackpool and countless young farmers events - so when I saw that Rydale had brought out some ladies loafers I jumped at the chance to try them out to see if they would live up to my trusty decks. 
The Ladies Wrelton Snaffle Suede Loafer from Rydale is a versatile flat suede shoe with gold hardware and a small wooden look heel. They are extremely comfortable shoes - I started wearing them after my heels from my sister's wedding gave me blisters and none of my shoes gave me any relief except for these! 

They are more dressy than a casual leather deck shoe so would look really nice with a pair of jeans or chinos to class them up a little bit. The snaffle hardware adds an equestrian flair to the shoes which I really like about them. 
I wore them to the polo at Dallas Burston Polo Club so I can safely say they have had the divot stomping test and they passed with flying colours.
They feel like really good quality, as does any other item I have tried from Rydale, and I think that they will last well.

The shoes are reasonably priced at £40 so would be a great substitute for the similarly styled Ariat Cruiser loafers for anyone on a budget - however coming from a country store you are guaranteed that extra bit of quality that wouldn’t be found on a high street alternative.
All in all, I think that they are a fabulous pair of shoes and you can expect to see them a lot more around my Instagram and other social media’s!
If you want to check them out yourself, they are available on the Rydale website and they also come in navy... 


The Game Fair 2018

19:31

Last weekend we visited  the Game Fair which was hosted at Ragley Hall in Alcester, having been a few times in the past we jumped at the opportunity to go seeing as it was so nearby this year.

We went on the Saturday and after hearing what a scorching hot day Friday had been we were fully prepared for another hot day. The weather in the morning was perfect for walking down the rows, there are so many great vendors selling really unique products and there are lots of local producers and British artists to support too.

As well as lots of great companies selling their goods, there are also tons of fabulous food vendors about with so many delicious options to choose from. For my lunch I went for a loaded gourmet hotdog with bacon bits, cheese and BBQ sauce - delicious! There were also big slabs of meat being grilled on a BBQ, some delicious looking Fish & Chip stalls, Pimm’s cups and a personal favourite of mine - a Yorkshire Tea wagon!

There were several arenas dotted around the show that each had a programme of events that ran throughout the day. In the mini ring we caught a parade of hounds and stopped to talk to the Master that had come up with the foxhounds from a hunt down near Bristol and he had brought one hound with him that had come from our local hunt! The main ring had lots of displays and a terrier racing competition that was open to anyone to enter. Some of the little dogs really had some go in them!

The gundog area had several rings as well where we watched some displays with some Clumber Spaniels. They were very well trained and did exactly as they were told! There were gundog trials going on all day too. There is plenty to see, even if you don’t know anything about gundogs it is really interesting to grab a seat and watch for a while…

At around 3 O’Clock our luck with the weather seemed to change and it started pouring with rain. We ducked under the Karcher tent for cover until it let up, but it carried on rai
ning more throughout the afternoon so once we had looked around at everything we wanted to see we decided to head back. On our way out we saw some horses working, carting logs and doing a demonstration in the mini ring, they were huge and it was really interesting to see.

All in all, we had a great day at the Game Fair, there was so much to see and do (and buy!). It makes a great family day out and there is plenty to see and do for kids as well. You can even take your dog!

If you’re interested in going to the Game Fair next year, it will be held at Hatfield House from the 26th-29th of July! You can find more information here.



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