Sarah Todd: Why the best way to catch the public’s eye is to say nowt

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IT WAS interesting to read in the agricultural press this week about a farmer who got the shock of his life when one of his cows gave birth to five healthy calves.

Don Constable had been convinced the ten year-old Belgian Blue cow was going to have twins as she was so big.

“The first three were born and it was then the vet turned to me and said you’re not going to believe this, but there are still two more to come,” explained the still flabbergasted farmer. “It was unbelievable, a really amazing and magical moment.”

It’s not often there’s a good news story in farming, so this momentarily lifted the spirits.

We had a reality check recently when the children sold the chicks which hatched just after Easter. The price they made was nowhere near enough to cover the cost of the feed they’d eaten.

The children are going to throw any broody hens out of the coop to cool off, saying from now on it’s egg production rather than breeding that they are interested in. We came back from market with faces as long as the feed bill. It must be so disheartening for farmers who are feeding pigs, or any other stock, at the moment and not covering their costs. You can’t not feed your animals but it’s devastating – even on the children’s small scale – not to make any money, never mind not breaking even.

In spite of the prices, the fur and feather market was a real eye-opener. There were some rum characters but we learnt quite a lot by talking to them. We hadn’t dared enter one of our hens as she has something called scaly leg. We’d spent a small fortune on fancy concoctions from the animal heath store that haven’t shifted it in the slightest. One chap told us the only solution that works is neat liquid paraffin – “strips it off in no time” – proving that there’s nothing to beat talking to people who know what they’re on about.

Again, if we added up what we have already spent on scaly leg lotion and feed for this particular hen we’d be able to buy at least a dozen replacements. Maths isn’t my subject but even this numerically challenged correspondent can see that there’s nowt in it.

This word was in my mind after seeing a sign for this weekend’s Driffield Steam and Vintage Rally. It said something like: “A great weekend for next to nowt”. It really tickled me, especially as The Husband had a few weeks earlier suggested we had one of our very rare family trips out. The only conclusion to draw was that he’d driven by the self-same sign and the bottom line had caught his eye…

Driffield Steam and Vintage Rally takes place this weekend. For more information visit www.driffieldvintagerally.co.uk

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