There is often talk of the average age of farming being around the mid-50s and agricultural shows lamenting a lack of fresh blood, but in the hamlet of Gunthwaite and Penistone Show, that takes place next Saturday (September 14), there’s one young man who is definitely bucking the trend – and he’s not the only one so far as the show is concerned.
Sam Raynes, 28, seems to have his ducks firmly in a row already. He’s a family man with a wife, Jenna and two sons – William, four, and Matthew, two. He served his apprenticeship with and works for TC Harrison on JCBs.
He spends every other hour available either with his young family, serving his local young farmers club Penistone YFC as club leader, organising a hugely successful annual charity tractor run that attracts 160 tractors, ensuring Penistone Show’s continued success as deputy show manager and working alongside his grandfather, Burton Rusby, and his uncle, James Rusby, on the 200-acre farming operation at Carr Lane Farm, Gunthwaite near Ingbirchworth.
“Eventually, I’d like to farm as well as being a mechanic. I’ve definitely always wanted to do something on the farm. In summer I’m here more or less every weekend and every night. My employers are very good about when I need to be away to work here.
“This was a dairy farm for many years up until seven years ago when the herd was sold. We used to bottle the milk here too and deliver locally. My other uncle, Simon, had two milk rounds. We eventually sold the cows and kept some of the young stock that we have since bred off, initially with the Hereford and now the Limousin bull.
“We now have a suckler herd that is much more Hereford X Limousin. They make good mothers. We sell stock at Holmfirth Mart. We have around 150 cattle on at the moment. We also have a Texel X flock that runs to around 80 lambs and ewes at present and a few Herdwicks. We grow 40 acres of corn, this year wheat, to provide feed for the stock. I was never really into the milking side of the farm. I’m more about farm machinery and the land. I attended Reaseheath College through my apprenticeship with JCB.”
Sam’s commitment to Penistone Show came about from his young farmers club days.
“I got involved with Penistone YFC when I was 11 years old. A lot of my friends were from farms, but for my first few years Penistone was a small club. At one stage we only had 12 members. The older ones kept it going for us, but when they passed the YFC age limit it left us as a very young club. I became chairman at 15. It is now the largest club in the district with around 60 members.
“My specialities were building things and making things. I made a ducking stool that gets used at many events and will again be on the Penistone YFC stand at the show.”
While Sam took part in dairy stockjudging competitions and tractor driving, as well as drama and anything else he could take part in, it was tug o’ war that gave him another buzz.
“I have never been into sport, but I did get into tug o’ war with Penistone. Our club president for many years, Andrew Howe and his brother Chris, now pull for England in the national team, not YFC-connected, and they got me into it too. I won gold for England with them a few years ago at the British & Irish nationals.”
Every agricultural show is always on the lookout for the next generation that is going to add to the show’s longevity and Penistone is more fortunate than most with a healthy number of younger bodies having come forward – and many from Penistone YFC.
“As a club we always used to go to the show and have a little stand. My aim was for a fantastic YFC stand that we now have and the club is now heavily involved with the show. Every year we look at different aspects of farming. We’ve had sheep shearing, wool spinning and butchery demonstrations from butcher Brindon Addy of Hade Edge.’
“This year we are focussing on sheep with wool-based activities, a couple of lambs to guess their names and half a lamb, pre-butchered in fridges to show the joints.”
Sam took a further step in his show involvement seven years ago when he became a committee member and three years ago he took on the role of deputy show manager to show manager Nicholas Hoyland.
“Quite a few from the club are now part of the show committee. I went on a show conference a couple of years ago and found out just how much is involved in the organisation of a show. It was amazing.
“Hopefully, people who come to the show will go away thinking they have learned something about agriculture. We try so hard to get people involved while they are here. Many people don’t know why we make bales in fields.
“In the past few years we have had an agricultural area, in addition to the livestock classes, where we demonstrate grass cutting and foraging with displays. This year we are showing conventional baling, as opposed to new modern big baling – and we are also showing vintage ploughing with vintage tractors to give a historic flavour of farming.”
Sam was at the showground last weekend. He will have been there much of this week on evenings and in the coming week he will be making sure everything is in place.
Ann Rusby, Sam’s grandmother and wife of Burton, tells of how her grandson’s passion for farming showed at an early age and how important Penistone Show is to the local community.
“Sam used to come to the farm every weekend from being really small and never wanted to go home. I’ve never worked on the farm, but because farming can be asset rich and cash poor I had a fish and chip shop at Bridge End in Penistone while my husband, who is now 76 and still works seven days a week on the farm kept this place going.
“Agriculture is the biggest industry around Penistone and people love Penistone Show.”