Think Pateley Show, or to use its proper title Nidderdale Show. Think Stoney. Trevor and his father Joe have been collectively Mr Pateley Show for decades. Joe’s now a sprightly 88 while Trevor is 62, the current show director and this year also doubling up as president.
This year’s show that takes place once again at the Nidderdale Agricultural Society-owned showground situated gloriously in the centre of Pateley Bridge on Monday, September 23 will see Trevor complete his set of official roles, mirroring his father’s efforts.
“We’ve been involved a fair while,” says Trevor. “My father went through all the offices. He was vice chairman, chairman, president and then became show director. I’ve done it slightly differently as I was assistant show director to father and when he stood down six years ago I became show director.
“Everyone is proud of putting on their agricultural shows and we’re the same. You’ve got to keep up your standard through every show. It’s very easy to let things slip and we don’t want to do that. We want to make sure it stops as an agricultural show.
“We all know it is a very expensive job taking animals to shows and unfortunately you can’t all win, but don’t be under any illusion the winners will have made a lot of money out of the prize money because it has already cost them a lot to get here. You can come and win nothing too, but that’s showing and it’s the taking part, coming along for the craic and the people you meet that makes your day.”
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Generations a farming family
Trevor keeps a close eye towards the next generations that will hopefully be involved with organising the show in future.
“I always say that the one thing we must keep on with is getting more younger ones involved. I went on to the show committee when I was 16. The way things are nowadays many are too busy building their own opportunities and businesses. Usually, by the time they’ve got that all out of their system, at about 40, they look at coming back.”
The Stoneys have farmed at White Woods Farm just half a mile from the showground for six generations. It is a beef and sheep enterprise that extends over their 120 owned acres with another 200 acres of grassland rented plus 1000 acres of moorland grazing on Heyshaw Moor and a further 500 acres of hill land grazed near the quarry on Greenhow Hill.
“We run a hill flock of 500 Dalesbred breeding ewes of which 120-150 will be crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester to bring the Dales Mule, which we then cross with mainly the Beltex but also the Texel for our early lambing slot.
“There will be around 130 of those of which roughly half will be Dales Mules and the other Beltex or Texel X. Our early lambing starts in the last week of January aimed at the May markets to keep our cash flow going. We sell them at Skipton and Pateley Bridge marts.
“We lamb everything inside even the hill flock. The replacements and singles go back outside, but otherwise everything else then stops around the farm. We’ve had Dalesbred for a long time. Father has been into them many years and we like them because we get a little bit heavier a lamb out of them than we would with the Swaledale. I’m not knocking the Swale, it’s just the Dalesbred suits our farming and they’re a milky type of sheep. At the end of the day we sell a lot of lambs through the fatstock market and we want some weight. We get that with the Dalesbred.
“ We sell some of our sheep as stores but we sell a lot as fat and we like them to get to around 44-46 kilos. The market seems to like a heavier lamb these days and we also like them to get to 48 kilos and above.
“Our buyers for those lambs will be supermarkets. The lighter lamb seems to be more for the export trade. About a third of our hill flock will go that way.
“We sell Dalesbred gimmers and tups at the breed sales at Bentham. We’re taking three tups this time and we will buy and sell. We just haven’t got into the top league yet, but we’re working at it. We will be showing Dalesbreds at Pateley Show.
“We run about 60 suckler cows mainly Limousin and Belgian Blue X. We’ve always run Limousin bulls and we’ve AI’d but we’ve a British Blue bull this time as well. We sell them mainly as stores at 12-13 months through Pateley and Skipton once again. We used to finish some and show them but nobody has the time nowadays and we need the shed space.”
Trevor is an ardent supporter of the live market auction and he’s delighted his local mart at Pateley is still going. He is cautious, however, over being reliant on the deadweight collection centre.
“I am a market man. I like going to market not just to sell but as a social event. Also, if you produce something that you like to think you’re proud of there’s a pride in showing it around a ring. On the deadweight system you go to market, it gets loaded on to a wagon and nobody sees it.
“The deadweight collection at Pateley has been a saviour of the market but it is the live sales that everyone really enjoys.
“I’m very worried that if we go any more deadweight with livestock we will lose our live markets.
“I organised a trip to Northern Ireland when I was chairman of our local NFU branch and I remember the Irish farmers telling us that whatever we do, don’t let our fatstock markets go.”
There’s one other sheep breed on the farm and that is Trevor’s wife Christine’s small flock of Zwartbles breeding ewes that are then put to the Beltex and then the Beltex is put back again to the Zwartbles X Beltex to create wonderful lambs.
“They’re nearly better lambs than I get,” says Trevor. Christine is a farmer’s daughter from Darley and works alongside Trevor and Joe on the farm. She was a dressmaker, specialising in wedding dresses and works part-time making exquisite blinds and curtains in Summerbridge.
Nidderdale Show takes place on Monday, September 23.