Christmas Traditions

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.



Worcestershire Young Farmers County Rally 2018 - #TrueYFC

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This weekend Worcestershire Young Farmers held our annual county rally just outside Upton on Severn and as always it was a jam-packed day!


With my A-Levels looming I decided not to take too much on this year so just opted for the Intermediate Cookery and Photography, and got roped into Intermediate Cake Decorating just a few days before the show. Along with a few nights spent helping to get the main exhibit together, this was a fairly light load compared to some years that I spent welding and making countless crafts in preparation for rally.


The theme for rally this year was Magic & Mystery, this inspired a Narnia themed rally box, a witchy cookery display, an attempt at illusion photography and a questionable unicorn cake.


Being one of the smaller clubs in the county, we find ourselves taking on multiple competitions and giving things a go that we aren’t necessarily well practised in. This is how I ended up producing the disaster unicorn cake. It was going badly from the beginning so when the icing colours started to merge together I knew that I needed to throw some sparkle on and call it a day! You can still sort of tell what it’s supposed to be, but it definitely wasn’t my finest performance.


The cookery was what I was most looking forward to competing in, I am now an intermediate member so I am competing with older members now which means there is a bit more pressure. I made a toffee apple inspired stack of pancakes - serving them with an apple compote and salted caramel sauce. I was thrilled to be placed 1st this year - and whilst using 100% British ingredients I was able to talk to the judges about my role as an ambassador for Love British Food!


Rally was a great day all in all with some fantastic results for my club - we were even awarded the title of the most improved club in the county which was a really fantastic achievement for us…


Bring on Rally 2019!

Love British Food Launch 2018

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On Thursday I headed down to London for the Love British Food launch for a fabulous lunch delivered by Phil Howard at the incredible restaurant Elystan Street

As one of the 14 youth ambassadors for Love British Food 2018, along with Richard Bower, Milly Fyfe, Ed Ford, Georgie Gater-Moore, Luke Winton, Hannah Binns, Ethan Kinney, Chris Manley, Linsey Martin, Mary Ankers, Jack Hodgeson, Josh Dowbiggin and Harriet Wilson, I was honoured to be attending the event.

I headed down to the event full of excitement, eager to meet all of the other young farmer ambassadors, as well as Liz Earle, Raymond Blanc and Candice Brown who are also ambassadors for the campaign.

Upon arriving, I recognised very few people there but after getting talking to lots of the guests it was clear that we all shared at least one thing – a passion for British food. It was great to hear from the competition winners and runners-up, the ambassadors in attendance and even the state secretary Michael Gove about their views on the future of British Farming.

The meal was of course incredible, and chef Phil Howard must be a genius to have produced an all British produce 3-course meal on the same budget that the NHS hospitals have to work on, £4.05.
We started off with steamed hispi cabbage topped with a coddled egg dressing and a sprinkling of Montgomery cheddar. This was followed by a roulade of chicken with creamed potato, leek hearts and spinach. To top it all off, we had organic buttermilk mousse finished with rhubarb and orange. The menu really incorporated seasonal ingredients, celebrated some great British produce, and tasted fantastic.

(P.S. If you want to check out all 3 courses of the meal, I posted photos to my twitter on the day of the event!)  

All in all it was a fabulous day, and we were sent away with a goody bag full of even more amazing British produce!

I am thrilled to be an ambassador for Love British Food, and if you would like to get involved there are plenty of opportunities.

Right now you can start posting photographs onto social media using the hashtag #BritishFoodIsGreat to show the public what is so incredible about the British food industry – these can be of anything from your farms to the fish and chips on your plate as it is all about celebrating British food.

Another great chance to get involved is to post a video of yourself saying ‘British Food is Great’ and post it to Twitter with #BritishFoodisGreat – making sure to tag @LoveBritishFood too. Doing this will not only be promoting British food, but will also enter you to win  a meal for 2 at Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant courtesy of Simon Hulstone, a top level Michelin starred chef plus an overnight stay at the Cary Arms boutique hotel in Torquay.

For more details on the campaign and how to enter the competition be sure to visit http://www.lovebritishfood.co.uk/

How I trim my Goats Hooves...

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It’s hard to believe, but I am getting close to the four year anniversary of getting my goats… FOUR YEARS! And if my maths isn’t as atrocious as I sometimes worry it is, that equates to nearly 100 hoof trims (spread over the 3 goats), because I like to keep on top of their hooves so that they don’t grow too long or uncomfortable. I am definitely no expert at this but I definitely have the hang of it now, so I thought I would share my top tips and advice for trimming your goat's feet - and I suppose a similar technique could be adapted for sheep too.

When we first picked up our goats, the breeder showed us how to trim their feet (at her kitchen table!) and then we were left to our own devices… We relied heavily on tips and tricks from various websites and videos at first and had all of the basic information available to us, but obviously you have no idea how your goats are going to respond to having their hooves trimmed and what is going to work best for you and them until you give it a go!

After a month or so, we decided to embark on our first hoof trimming mission, and seeing as they were still tiny I was able to hold the goats almost like babies in order to get to their feet to trim them. This, however, does not last as they get bigger! So if you want to start off foot care like this then be prepared that you will have to adapt your technique as your goats get bigger, heavier and their horns grow to be more of a weapon…

Now that our goats are full grown, I find that the easiest way to contain them for a foot trim is to use a sheep halter. You can find these at stores such as Countrywide/Mole Valley, but I picked mine up from a western shop in Canada so they are very brightly coloured! I prefer a halter to a neck collar as is distributes the force and is more gentle on the goats, they seem to respond better to signals on the halter than they did on a neck collar as well.

In terms of equipment, you will need, obviously a good pair of foot shears or whatever you may like to call them is essential. We picked up a pair from our local countrywide, and although this isn’t the exact pair they are very similar: https://www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk/lightweight-footrot-shears

In terms of the cuts you are making to the hoof wall, you want to remove any excess growth on the sides, at the toe and the heel. This diagram I found online shows the areas you should be working on. As well as this I like to take a hoof pick (yes a horse hoof pick!), one with a brush at one end, and brush out any dirt from the hoof also make sure to dislodge any small stones that may have found their way into the feet.

If you make a cut too deeply and a small bleed occurs, do not panic! Just have some iodine spray, or some of that purple spray that seems to be entirely magical, on hand to spray the affected area and allow your goat to stand, preferably on dry ground, as the pressure will stop the bleeding.

I hope this has been helpful or at least interesting to some of you, if you have any tips or tricks for trimming your goats’ feet I would love to hear them!

Young Farmers & Uni Interviews

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January has been a really busy month so far, with plenty of young farmers competitions to prepare for and university interviews to anxiously anticipate.

I had an interview to study at the University of Surrey on the 12th of January. We travelled down to Surrey on the morning and arrived with plenty of time to spare. Because my interview was at 12:45 and I would be there for nearly 3 hours, we stopped in Guildford town centre and has lunch before the interview. We then headed to the Vet School and I went in for my interview with about 25 others. After the interview, we went on a tour of the campus and got to see the pathology building and the sports centre - both of which I hadn't seen on the open day previously. It was also good to have a look at the rest of the buildings again and speak to some students about how it was living in Surrey and studying at the Vet School. After coming away from the interview I felt really positive about it and waited (very impatiently) to hear if I had been successful. Thankfully, I only had a week to wait before receiving an email informing me to check my UCAS track, followed by another one from the University itself congratulating me on receiving an offer. This is my first offer for Veterinary Medicine so I was very happy to get it! I'm so happy to have an offer now so that I really have something to work for and something to look forward to. 

Last weekend, was the Worcestershire Young Farmer's Public Speaking competitions, so I drove down to Droitwich Spa High School (in the snow!) to compete. I arrived nice an early to sign in for my competitions with bags of costume changes, tablecloths, jugs of water etc. to hand. 

My first competition of the day was one I had never competed in before - Just a Minute. They do this on Radio 4 I think, it's basically where four people take it in turns starting off talking about a topic for as long as they can without repetition, hesitation or deviation from the subject. Some of the topics I had to speak about were zoos, books and pubs, but it can be anything from hats to AGM when it comes to young farmers. Much to our surprise, my club seemed to really take to this competition and we ended up placing first which was great!

Next, I competed in the Junior Member of the Year competition, it was my last chance of competing technically an intermediate this year but the way it works out, if you were a junior member last year you can compete in your first year as an intermediate. I presented my information about how I had contributed to Young Farmers in the past 12 months and then sat my interview. I think it went really well and I really got to show how much I know about the organization and how much I (try) to do to promote it. I was happy with the 2nd place I achieved in the competition and I am looking forward to moving on to Member of the Year (for Intermediate & Senior) next year...



I also chaired the MACE Debating which was something really new for me. It was actually a really tricky job as you have to record the lengths of the speakers' points, make comments, move the debate along and conduct a vote at the end. It is definitely something I would do again now though after giving it a go this year, I think I would be more confident next time as I would know what to expect. Unfortunately, my club didn't place in this but it's the taking part that matters and we all gained a valuable experience from it. 

The last event of the day was the disco dancing. I don't know how I got roped into this one as the extent of my dancing 'skill' - if you could go as far as to call it skill - is my Grade 2 ballet, I left ballet before I even got my Grade 3 so take what you will from that! We practised our medley of disco songs with our very advanced routine containing all the classics: It's Raining Men, the Macarena, The Birdy Song and I Don't Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (oops upside your head), and donned our neon tops, legwarmers and headbands before taking to the stage. We may not have won (or placed) but we definitely entertained. 


As you can tell, it's been a busy start to the year - but start as you mean to go on! 

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