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contented calf browsing hedge after TB testing summer 07

Okay, here goes. The paper which landed on Robert’s desk the week of our TB test wasn’t a recent publication…in fact it was published in 2006. It never receive the coverage it should have at the time. Strangely its arrival had nothing whatsoever to do with the farm or our impending TB test. It was forwarded to Robert because of his involvement in all things hedge (being  chair of the national hedgerow Biodiversity Action Plan group, Hedglink and co-chair of the Devon Hedge Group).

Robert popped his head around my office door “You should take a look at this.”

“What?” I looked up at him

“A paper on bovine TB linked to hedges”

“Hedges?”I scratched the top of my head and twiddled the hair “What…hedges decrease, increase the incidences?” As always when another study is published on bTB my reactions are mixed…hope, doubt, excitement, negativity and a kind of destructive inevitability.

“Decrease apparently”

“Oh something went wrong around here then!” I said wryly “Us being one of the most heavily hedged landscapes in Britain with some of the worst incidences of TB.”I leant back in my chair “So how do you mean? Good thick boundaries between contiguous farms?” I went on pre-empting his explanation “I didn’t know this…but the spread of disease from cattle to cattle out in the field is apparently quite unusual. The vet said a TB infected animal has to have developed lesions in the head and lungs and to hawk violently onto an area of grass just before it’s ingested by another animal to get cross contamination. Interesting…I always thought it was a much more tenuous encounter” I stretched “So, what’s its claim then? The paper? Where was the research carried out?” adding tongue-in-cheek “The hedgeless, stockless arable wastes in the east of the country?”

“No. Here. In North Devon. And on the Hereford/Gloucestershire boarder!” He grinned “I’ll send you a link. Have a look for yourself!”

So I did.

The study covered 120 dairy farms, 60 with recently infected herds and 60 without, and looked at the influence of various factors on the incidence of bovine TB.  These factors were farmland habitat, topography (landform), badger density, proximity of farms with breakdowns, stocking density and herd size.

As expected bTB incidence was found to be linked to herd size and distance to nearest infected farms.  In line with some other studies but not all, incidence was not found to be closely linked to badger density.  It was also not closely linked to the extent or configuration of deciduous woodlands nor to the extent of pasture (both favoured badger habitats).

What was new was that hedgerow characteristics were found to be strong predictors of breakdown incidence.   Hedgerow abundance, the number of hedgerow gaps, and the number of ungrazed field boundaries were all important.  For example, a ‘hedge-poor’ farm (as defined in the paper) would be expected on average to have a 1.6 times greater risk of bTB than a ‘hedge-rich’ farm.  Considering just total hedgerow length, an increase of 1 km per 100 ha was associated with a decrease in the risk of breakdowns by about 12.5%:  in absolute terms this equates to the annual risk of bTB changing from 9.2% to 8.1% for herds in the West of England: an annual reduction of 251 infected herds (based on 2004 figures).  These figures were controlled for herd size and distance to next bTB case: it is not simply the case that farms with plenty of good hedgerows have a lower stocking density.

The authors conclude that habitat management appears important to a farm’s bTB risk. ‘Nature friendly’ management practices – the presence of ungrazed wildlife strips, and the greater availability, width and continuity of hedgerow – are all associated with reduced bTB incidence.

They could only speculate on the mechanism through which hedgerows may reduce incidence of bTB, but  suggest it could be due to one of two factors.  The first is that hedge-rich farms are managed differently – for example they have different crop rotations which reduce the likelihood of cattle eating contaminated grass.  The second (and more likely) is that the presence of hedges reduces badger-cattle transmission because a higher proportion of contaminated grass is kept out of the reach of cattle.  Badgers preferentially use hedgerows as movement corridors and for their latrines, so where cattle are excluded from these areas by either hedge growth or fences, contact with the bacteria is reduced.

Given the practical difficulties associated with badger culling, and the fact that to be effective it has to be carried out over large areas (because of the perturbation effect), the authors suggest that improving habitat features such as hedgerows and ungrazed wildlife margins might be a more cost effective strategy to reduce infection.

So there you have it. A piece of research I had no idea existed. And the one thing we have on this farm? Exceptional density of hedges…with very few gaps; in fact we  have many more hedges now than were present on the 1840 Tithe Map.

Could this be (and I hardly dare think it, let alone say it) a reason why we ‘continue’ (whispered very quietly) to go clear?

...so! hedges are good for something other than browsing?

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What's all the fuss? TB? Us?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook probably gathered my cattle had a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) test about ten days ago. Those of you familiar with farming and the countryside will have a pretty good understanding of the problems surrounding bTB and the distressing effect it has on farmers, farms and cattle industry. And those of you who aren’t that interested in farming, will, I’m sure, be aware of the debate that rages around badger culling, vaccination and the like.

Personally I feel every test brings us one step closer to the inevitable…bTB breakdown. Illogical? Probably.  Or maybe not.

We’ve been ‘upgraded’ to six monthly testing, as the farm’s contiguous. I don’t know what’s changed; we’ve been contiguous to farms suffering breakdowns for a good many years. Anyhow this new status certainly makes me more jumpy.

I guess that it’s here that I should mention that in the twenty years I’ve been farming at Locks (and actually for the whole thirty-five years of my farming career) my cattle, first dairy, now beef, haven’t had a case of bTB. I say this with great trepidation; I really dislike mentioning it.  I’m terrified of tempting fate.

Briefly, the bTB skin test takes place over a period of a few days. On day one tuberculin is administered at two sites – the first (or the top spot) is the control – avian tuberculin is used; and the bottom, the second site, is inoculated with bovine tuberculin.  Three days later the test is read and a conclusion reached on the size of the reaction.

As we were getting ready on the first day I said to Polly, our vet, “Well, don’t suppose we’ll go clear. Bloody miracle if we do.” And somewhat to my surprise she said “Yes, it will be.” None of that nice reassuring talk… my fault for bringing it up, not hers for being honest!

I firmly resisted any temptation to check for reactions. On the Friday as we were sorting through the cattle before the vet came I mumbled to Olly “She doesn’t think we’ll get through you know.”

“Don’t be such a doom merchant” he snapped back at me. But I noticed he didn’t follow it up with “You’re daft. You always say that. Of course we will. We always do!” (I now know that he’d been checking the animals and had found some substantial lumps!)

Reading the test was heart in tongue stuff; Polly had the callipers (used for measuring the size of the lumps) out for practically every cow. Almost all the animals had sizable reactions to the avian tuberculin (indicating a high incidence of avian TB) but, thank god, no reactions to the bTB.  We were clear! A surprise to all of us.

So why? Why did we go clear…?

Because I run a closed herd? Or that we’re organic? Maybe we practice exceptional welfare? Have a healthy badger set? Keep a native breed? Farm extensively? Don’t have tonnes of hard feed knocking around? Or that we are just too darn wet? But others are doing these things and more still suffer breakdowns.  It is just luck?

Perhaps not…An intriguing paper arrived last week

Please log on tomorrow –  I’ll be writing a post on this paper and would hugely value your reactions and comments

...intriguing, she says.

My friends and I were nattering nineteen to the dozen over supper, catching up on news and gossip when Emily suddenly turned to me and said, poker face “I’ve a new man in my life.” I looked questioningly at her, surprised, and then across at Geoff, leaning back in his chair thoughtfully twirling a glass of wine.  “Yes. I hardly see her anymore” he confirmed.

“Ah” I replied a little cautiously “Go on then. Tell me. Who is he?” I looked encouragingly at Emily

“Oh he’s amazing. Someone very special…I’d love you to meet him. Oh dear, but I don’t think you’ll have the time. I’ll be busy too. Oh!” She agitatedly looped up a stray strand of hair “So silly. I’m doing the flowers for Audrey’s   party tomorrow, so ‘fraid I can’t take you. But you would…you’d love him. You’d be quite smitten. Maybe…”She tailed off

“Emily! Who is he? The suspense is killing!”

“Paula! Paula, Paula, Paula…” she screwed her eyes up, tight

“Yes, yes. Go on.”

“He’s eighty-five. Sooo, so, sooo wonderful!” she paused, lost in thought “The things he knows…about farming, thatching and cleaving chestnut. You should see it. The cottage, his workshop – oh, his workshop! I saw it by mistake…the tools – like a museum collection. His garden, full of dahlias, kept as it was by Ruby. It mustn’t be lost. His skills, his talent and knowledge, I mean. He might be the last. Certainly around here…I couldn’t bear that.” With a worried frown she looks across at me, then smiles.  “He lives down on the marsh. He did a huge amount of work with Christopher Lloyd…you know? Great Dixter?  You must meet him. Go tomorrow. I’ll give him a ring. Introduce you on the phone. Maybe you’ll be able to do something.”

“Yes please. How exciting. Oh, but I was going to plant bulbs on Morna’s grave. No…it’ll be fine. I’ve time to do everything. After all that’s what I’m here for. Remembering, feeling, finding. I’d really love to meet him. Seize the opportunity.” I give her a squeeze “And lord knows when I’ll next be up here!”

The next morning introductions are made over the phone. A time arranged “One o’clock” I’m told, as they still have dinner at mid-day “Just as we always have”. Geoff and I poured over the map and found the farm “Look at the church. It’s exquisite, 12th century.”

The day was picture perfect.  Cold with clear blue skies and far horizons splashed with autumn colour.  The drive down to Romney Marsh was alive with memories I didn’t know I had. Distant stirrings of my first visit to England; never-before-seen snow , rose gardens, my grandparents, damp wool, soft leather and pipe tobacco. My parents  – young and laughing.  Tea with a great-aunt, polished oak panelling, shortbread and rich fruit cake…

Passing the simple, yet quite beautiful church I turned down on to the Marsh and before long was knocking on the door of Bob’s farmhouse.

I spent an afternoon that I hope will live forever in my memory. We walked across the open landscape of the Marsh and as Bob pointed out the cast-up field systems cultivated in Romans times we discussed the virtues of farming ancient and modern. The Romney or ‘Kent’ sheep and red Sussex cattle used to graze the acres of his farm – now no longer pure bred the sheep are crossed with Charolais and the Sussex with Aberdeen Angus. I point out the mile-upon-mile of cleft chestnut fencing and intricate sheep handling pens…Bob it transpires, made them all. In Bob’s youth cattle from hop farms used to graze the marsh during summer months…returning home in winter to be housed in yards; the muck they produced was valuable and much-needed for the hop gardens.

cleft oak teaching thatching frame

We cross back over to his farmyard where he shows me his chestnut wood store, his threshing machine, his thatching frames used for teaching apprentices, and yes, even his workshop! Twenty five years ago Bob handed the farm over to his sons and took up long straw thatching, a very different method to our West Country thatch.  Around the yard I notice all the bullock handling systems, gates and crushes are made from sturdy cleft chestnut…I’m amazed, thrilled (I hate the feel of metal) and, Bob assures me, they are strong and safe, never causing injury to an animal or handler. We continue, talking non stop. Crossing into his garden, we pass beautifully laid out vegetable beds lined with dahlias and walk along cinder paths past an ancient orchard still used to produce cider.  Turning a corner, I was stunned by the sight of a perfect tiny cottage.

Bob's tiny timber framed and thatched cottage with tiny cottage garden

“Ah, yes” says Bob modestly but with a twinkle in his eye “I wanted to see if I could build a framed building as they used to. Completely out of cleft and pegged oak …thatched. So I decided to make it for my grandchildren.” I’ve never wanted to return to my childhood more than at that moment…and to be one of Bob’s descendents! Inside was just as enchanting…a kitchen, a sitting room, dining room and an upstairs with two wee bedrooms! All the furniture Bob had made out of the elm from the farm.

Back in the kitchen eating a tea of Bob’s homemade bread (with wheat from the thatching straw) spread thickly with comb honey (from a bee’s nest in the chimney!), yellow rock buns and raspberry jam turnovers I’m replete in every way. Cradling my cup of hot milky tea I turn to Bob “Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to have met you. I just wish I could have met Ruby too.” (Ruby is Bob’s much missed wife who died very suddenly eight years ago) “If ever you have an urge to come to the Westcountry, well…I’d be honoured if you’d visit us.”

cleft chestnut bullock gates

I left with the sun sinking below the marsh, leaving a silhouette of gnarled trees filigreed against the skyline.  As I nibbled on a walnut from the farm’s ancient orchard, I knew, with certainty, I would return.

setting sun

I’ve been away. It was a spur of the moment decision made on Friday morning halfway through making a batch of quince and squash chutney. Well, I exaggerate, not wholly impulsive, I’d been toying with the idea ever since Will (3rd son) had suggested it a month or so ago. The time seemed right. Olly was around for the weekend… “100% mum. Though I’m going out Saturday evening.” And Robert had no pre-arranged ‘dos’ either.

After a couple of quick phone calls and very hastily potted chutney, I threw some essentials into a bag and was on the road by 2pm. It was the foulest drive imaginable. Busy roads, incessant rain, fierce wind and relentless spray, poor visibility…and dark! Six hours later I emerged, zombie-like, from the car.

Relieved to have arrived I push open the wicket gate and, clutching my basket, carefully walked down the slippy, uneven brick path. Lining the pathway are tall, darkly-dense box hedges crowned with mystical topiary beasts that moan and groan in the gusting wind and pelting rain. Drenched I reached the door, give a tap, turn the knob and step into another world. I blink in the soft light “Sorry I’m late…the roads…the rain, the traffic.” I thrust my basket towards Don “Supper.” Pulling it back to me I rummage around and take out a wrapped greaseproof package “Steak…fillet. Ours. Red Ruby.” I look up and smile “Quick to cook. Tender and mouth-watering…hopefully.” Grinning I dig into the basket again “And wood blewits. To go with the steak. From the woods above Marymead.” Carefully I lift out one of the starling violet-blue fungi “Aren’t they just extraordinary?” I hold it to the light “So beautiful…what an amazing colour. You’d think they were totally poisonous!”  And lastly I take out a bottle of wine “And wine. To celebrate!” I pause, take a deep, slow breath and let my eyes wonder around the kitchen absorbing every little detail “How wonderful to be here.  I feel recovered already!”

The friends I was staying with live in an old gardener’s cottage once attached to ‘The Big House’… to me it’s a place of enchantment. I’m Alice… stepping through the looking glass into another world; wood smoke, worn red-brick floors, milky glass, ancient timber framing and soft chalky walls.  Colour; colour is everywhere – softly muted and earthy rich. And then there are the things!  A jumble.  A plethora.  A marvellous abundance of treasure. I love it. I gather to me the extraordinary tapestry of senses and feast my soul.

Next day, the enchantment continues outside. An old oak barn tumbled with myrtle, rosemary and clematis, a hidden sculpture, a table, a summerhouse. Brick paths which turn into mazes of tall box hedges and fantastical topiary beings that lead one into small secret places…or with an unexpected twist guide you down a grand avenue (the Queen of Hearts?) to a pond and the rolling countryside beyond.

The reason for my visit? Time to reflect. On my memories. Of my mother and my closest family buried in the churchyard not a hundred yards away from the cottage. My father, my aunt, my uncle…and in a nearby village, my grandparents.

To me the month of November lends itself to recollection and introspection. November is a month of transition, a time for rest, a time of renewal and a time for resurrection.  The darkening days, the wild weather, the slowing down of  nature and the comfort of the home hearth make it so.

With the church bells ringing overhead I walk in the garden gathering sprays of crimson crab-apples, branches of myrtle and sprigs of rosemary which I take and  lay on the still uneven turf of my mother’s grave and remember…..with love.

remembering

remembering

“Oh hi. It’s Paula I left a message on your phone earlier. I wanted…”

“Yes, here it is. I’ve got it in front of me. I was just about to call.” There was a halting tap-tapping coming from the phone “Ah, yes. Now it’s 0183…Paula! You’re from Angel aren’t you? I recognise the code. You see Sal’s ill and it’s taken all morning to re-jig her appointments. Much much longer than I thought and I really was going to phone earlier. You were next on the list. You see…”

“Please.” I interrupted “please, it’s not a problem. Really. Could I make an appointment to have my hair cut…with Sal?”

“I truly was going to phone but the morning just went and…” I broke in again

“ It’s not a problem. Honestly. But may I make an appointment?”

“Oh. Oh yes. When would like one? You are Paula from Angel aren’t you?”

“No I’m afraid not. I’m Paula from Hatherleigh…and as soon as possible please. I’ve lank rats’ tails!”

“Oh dear.” There was more rapid tapping “I’m afraid the earliest is next Monday. What do you want done?”

“Cut…a cut please…oh and Sal generally does a bit of funky toner on the fair bits. But that’s not important if she’s pushed.  At what time?”

“Let me see… ummm, quarter to one?”

“Excellent. So that’s next Monday the 9th at 12.45 for a cut with Sal”

“No, no. No, 2.30.”

“Ahh. I thought you…oh never mind. Okay 2.30 then?”

“Yes. I’ve got your contact details haven’t I? Paula from Angel and your phone number is 01392*****…”

“No Paula from Hatherleigh and my number is 01837******.”

“Oh of course it is! I asked you before. Okay, we’ll see you next Monday then. Byee.”

“Bye and thanks”

Feeling a little perplexed I put the phone down, almost immediately it began to ring again…

“Oh hello, it’s Pat. I’m sorry Paula; Monday looked very different once I looked at it. I’m afraid we can’t do anything till Thursday at the very earliest.”

“That’s a shame. But okay so that’s Thursday week. And what time?”

“No, Thursday this week.”

“Erm, but that’s sooner? That’s this week sooner, but hey, that’s good. So what time?”

“3.30”

“Any chance of something earlier?”

“Yes, let me see? 10.30? 11.00? 12.00?”

“10.30 is perfect. Thanks. So that’s this Thursday at 10.30 with Sal”…”for a cut.” I added quickly

“Oh not with Sal, that’s with Sam and Julian.”

“Uh? Umm, I did say Sal. And I only need one person to cut my hair. There’s not an awful lot of it.”

“Oh well then that’s different. What was it you want done? A full head of colour wasn’t it?”

“No, a cut. Just a cut. With Sal.”

“Well that is different. I’m afraid we haven’t anything for at least two weeks if it’s with Sal…”

“Oookay. So it’s got to be Thursday two weeks. What time? Early would be good.”

“Monday,  not Thursday. Yes Sal can do Monday. 2.30 suit you?”

“A bit earlier would be good. Have you something earlier?”

“Yes. 12.45.”

“Great! That’s definite? Yes? 12.45 for a cut with Sal on Monday 16th?”

“No. Monday 9th.”

“But…that’s where we started off from.” I squeaked into the phone “That’s exactly the same day and time you first gave me…”

Have I’ve been had? Have I been framed?  Was it a dream?  Somebody pinch me!

I just want my hair cut...

help!

help!

aspen-in-autumn-lewmoor-oct-04-reduced

autumn coulour

Last night a low pressure weather system from the Atlantic roared into the South West. High winds and rain tore through the countryside screeching and wailing along quiet lanes, rattling and crashing through hushed farmsteads and howling over silent meadows. Trees and branches bent, twisting and gyrating under the onslaught; their leaves, whipped into a rattling frenzy, hung by tenuous thread before being ripped, torn and hurled into chaotic cyclones spiralling across the countryside.   And how appropriate! How fitting that Nature should use her elemental power to scour and cleanse herself for the ancient festival of Samhain.

This morning the ground has changed into a confused tapestry of molten bronze, burnished copper and liquid gold. The trees, denuded of their autumn finery, silhouette a filigree of delicate lacework branches against the skyline. It’s only now that it becomes obvious that most of the trees around here are hedgerow trees, as the details of the landscape become apparent.  But for how much longer will these trees grace our countryside?

hedgerow trees at the bottom of Dillings before last night's gales.

hedgerow trees between Dillings and Rushy Field before last night's gales.

Nationally, over the last decade we’ve lost one in twenty of our hedgerow trees, a 5% decline between 1998 and 2007.  Quite simply, there are not enough young trees being allowed to grow up to replace those that are dying or being felled.

It’s true that hedgerow trees often cause problems for the farmer.  If not carefully managed, as they grow up the shade they cast can result in gaps in the hedge beneath, making it less stock-proof.  Trees add considerably to the time taken to cut a hedge, and their limbs can get in the way of farm machinery and overhead lines.  And there’s always the risk that they will be hazardous later in life.  But they are of great value to wildlife and the landscape.

Old, veteran, trees are of special wildlife importance, their cracks and holes providing nest and roost sites for birds like tits, woodpeckers and owls, and for many bats.  Their rotting wood is home to huge numbers of different invertebrates – insects and so forth, especially beetles – and for fungi.  All these forms of life would otherwise not be able to survive in hedges or the surrounding farmland.

Recent research has shown that even before they become veterans hedgerow trees, especially isolated ones, greatly increase the amount of wildlife in an area.  Moth numbers, for example, have been shown to increase by as much as 60% where such trees are present, and their species diversity by 38%.  Hedgerow trees act as beacons in the landscape, attracting the moths and other insects, and in turn these attract birds and bats which use the trees as service stations in their movements across the landscape. The crowns of trees are important for larger birds such as buzzards and rooks to build their nests in, and the trunks can carry rich lichen floras, including some great rarities.

To maintain hedgerow trees numbers nearly half (45%) of all trees need to be young, that is with diameters of 20cm or less.   The good news, though, is that to stabilize the population we do not need to recruit many more trees each year.  Indeed, if just 15,000 extra trees are planted or allowed to grow each year across the country, that will do the trick.  If each farmer encourages just one additional tree each year, our hedgerow tree population will quickly start to recover and rise.

young seven year old hedgerow trees 30 oct 09 reduced

young trees marked in new hedgerow along our farm lane

Others can help too.  To survive their early years, until they stand proud of the hedge and are safe from the flail cutter, young trees need to be marked clearly.  Experience shows that tags need to be renewed each year, and surrounding vegetation cut away so the saplings are clearly visible.  This takes more time than farmers like us have available, so offers of assistance from people in the local community can be more than welcome.

young hedgerow trees five corners 30 oct 09 reduced

15 year old hedgerow trees between Five Corners and Square Field

Guelder-rose berries and ash tree, Locks Park, 8 Oct 09 reduced

Guelder-rose berries and ash tree

It’s Devon Hedge Week! What a perfect week it’s been to celebrate our amazing hedges…and the breathtaking autumn colours.

Last weekend we held our own event at the farm on hedge management, hedgerow trees and dormice – staring Dora, of course!

Interestingly most people when asked about hedge management would say without hesitation ‘Laying is good. Flailing is bad.’ This is not strictly true. Yes I do agree there’s still a lot of poor hedge cutting practice about, but flail mowing itself is not a bad thing. In fact hedge cutting is positively beneficial in most cases, and the flail is the best means available in the majority of circumstances.

Here you see Robbie our contractor flail cutting a hedge we laid two years ago, taking care not to damage the ash hedgerow tree.

Our contractor is flail cutting a hedge we laid two years ago and is taking care not to damage the ash hedgerow tree

You see cutting promotes thick, dense cover necessary for many of our smaller breeding birds (warbler, finch, sparrow, dunnock) and dormice. Interestingly it is along the knotty growth of the fail-line that you’ll find most bird and dormice nests.  Cutting also prolongs the period before a hedge needs to be rejuvenated by laying or coppicing. Laying is costly and time consuming so it’s important that management should try to keep the hedge in good condition for as long as possible before laying is necessary again.

young wych elm tree and hedge fail

young wych elm tree and hedge fail

Back to flail mowing, the main issues here are, of course, that hedges are either cut too often, or too short and thin. Hedgelink has recently produced an excellent leaflet (click on link for pdf) which takes one through the management cycle and the management options for each of stage of the hedge.

‘We encourage cutting on a 2 or preferably 3 or more year cycle, raising the cutting height a few inches each time, and staggering cutting between years.  There are times, though when cutting annually is necessary, for example to maintain road visibility, or desirable for the hedge base flora – the magnificent displays of primroses, bluebells and other spring flowers along many Devon hedge banks are dependent on frequent, close, cutting.  Cutting two or three year old growth can make a hedge look unsightly for a while, but it’s remarkable how quickly they recover, and as far as we know, no lasting damage is done to plant survival or hedge structure (research is underway to test this).’

Of course if you are managing your hedges mainly for wood, cutting would be counter productive as you’d want the growth to ensure a good wood harvest; but if possible aim at having as many hedges you can at different stages in their cycle.

So don’t dispair when you see fail mowed hedgerows – it’s the autumn-clean for next year’s wildlife!

juvenile-dormice-3-five-corners-28-sept-08-reduced

...and just perfect for us!

Locks Park Farm

Thanks for visiting my blog. All entries are presented in chronological order.

I have a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. I've been farming in the county for more than 30 years. I've set up this blog to share views on farming and the countryside - please do give your thoughts.

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England has helped set up this blog. We want farming to thrive in England, and believe that it is essential that people understand farming and farmers better in order for that to happen. Paula's views expressed here are her own and we won't necessarily share all of them, but we're happy to have helped give her a voice.

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