Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farming: Car Repairs Help Keep Farm on the Right Road

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farming: Car Repairs Help Keep Farm on the Right Road

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

MECHANIC and farmer Gordon Barwise is managing to juggle both his jobs - thanks to the investment in a new farm building. Gordon's family has farmed the tenanted Plumgarths, Holmrook, in west Cumbria for 47 years.

A time-served mechanic, he began running the farm on his own in 1990 and it was the re-building of an old car seven years ago that set his car repair business on the road at a time when farmers were being encouraged to diversify.

While the car repair business, which has been built up simply by word of mouth, would make him a living, farming on its own would not provide enough of an income for Gordon, who lives at Plumgarths with his mother, Sylvia.

The family bought 63 acres at nearby Sleathwaite in the Irton Valley in 1982 to supplement the 88 tenanted acres at Plumgarths, which rises up to 800ft and is Severely Disadvantaged land.

Until this winter, the farm's herd of pure-bred Simmentals and calves were housed in outdated buildings at Plumgarths - the farmhouse itself dates back to 1560.

However, thanks to grant aid from Farming Connect Cumbria, Gordon has built a new, warm yet airy wooden 90ft by 90ft building with adjoining 90ft by 30ft roofed muck store on land he owns - which will dramatically cut time spent feeding and bedding the cattle.

"Previously, the calved cows were housed but they were all in traditional byres. The feed was to take to them and the muck to take out manually. I started at 6am and it took me two hours in the morning and another hour at night to feed them," said Gordon.

"The cattle that were outside were poaching the ground and it was becoming an issue with cross-comp liance.

"There wasn't a midden, which was a potential environmental difficulty, and I thought there would be eventual problems on welfare grounds in the way the cattle were housed.

"I had always had it in mind to put a building on the land I owned. I read about Farming Connect Cumbria in a local paper and its adviser, Everley Buckley, carried out a feasibility study and planning appraisal to see if the building was a justifiable investment.

"We had to convince the Lake District National Park authority that the building was necessary for animal welfare and on environmental grounds as well as making huge savings on my time and eventually paying for itself.

"I enjoy farming and the livestock always comes first, but at the present time it is not bringing in enough income whereas the car business would."

Calves from the Simmental herd are not able to be finished on the farm and are sold store - bulls at eight to 10 months old, and heifers not retained as breeders are sold at 14 to 16 months old.

The farm also has a flock of 174 Border Leicester cross Texel ewes which are put back to the Texel, but because of low lamb prices, nearly double the number made just pounds 100 more than last year when sold in August. …

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