A late summer flush is giving cause for greater optimism in the farming stronghold of Upper Wharfedale.
Any hope of a substantial second cut of grass on the now lush slopes of the dale looked fanciful just a month ago when an intensely hot dry spell gave the parched landscape a burnt out yellow hue.
For the grouse moors the damage has already been done. The extreme conditions of earlier in the year have hit grouse numbers, leading to cancellations throughout the shooting season and causing a knock-on affect to Dales businesses that rely on the uplift it enjoys at the end of the summer.
But the growth spurt on the valley floors and upland hills gives sheep and cattle farmers a second chance to stash silage stocks for winter feeding.
The showfield at Kilnsey Show & Sports was like a soft grassy carpet. Recent rainfall has been a blessing though there were many grateful of the dry conditions today as the 121st show was played out.
John Carlisle, the show’s chief cattle steward who farms at Cracoe, told of the brighter prospects for farmers.
“Over the last month we’ve finally had rain in the Dales and grass growth so things are looking up. We’re hoping for an Indian summer now so we can get a second crop to make up for the shortfall earlier in the summer.”
Matt Mason, the show’s chief sheep steward, explained: “It’s been a trying time with a cold spring followed by a dry summer and it’s effected prices because people haven’t been turning lambs out on grass but it might work out right as the season goes on.”
Upper Nidderdale is prime sheep territory and the line up at the show was strong. Sheep entries were up by around 60 with extra Any Other Breed classes put on this year.
The Mule section was particularly competitive, Mr Mason said, but it was a homebred shearling ewe Charollais shown by Whenby-based Charles Marwood that was named the show’s supreme sheep champion.
The same ewe had finished third in its class at the Great Yorkshire Show and was the top shearling ewe at Driffield Show.
Mr Marwood, who has bred Charollais sheep for 36 years, said the sheep may be included as part of a 70-strong consignment to be sold at Skipton auction mart on October 13.
Reserve champion sheep was a homebred Blue Faced Leicester shown by Jim, Stephen and Martin Pedley of Yore House near Hawes.
In the cattle section, John Stephenson’s commercial beef winner, a homebred Parthenaise and Belgian Blue Cross weighing 530kg, was named supreme beef champion, while a Limousin heifer shown by Heather and Jim Marks of Bishopton, Darlington, was named in reserve.
The supreme dairy animal was Lillyhall Cashmoney Bonita, a first calver Holstein, whose grandmother was imported as an embryo from the US. She was shown by the Gisburn-based partnership of William and Michael Oldfield, and Isaac Lancaster.
The reserve dairy beast was a Holstein presented by the Booth family of Lothersdale.
PASSION DRIVES SHOW
Agricultural shows are run on the passion and dedication of volunteers. Robert Lambert, the show’s chairman is the epitome of those qualities.
Today’s 121st Kilnsey Show was Mr Lambert’s last as chairman after 17 shows and in recognition of his service, he is the show’s president elect.
“It’s a passion,” Mr Lambert said of his long involvement. “It feels like a good achievement when you look around at the show and see everyone is happy. Since I took the role on, the show has grown and that’s down to the whole committee.”
As well as livestock classes, the 121st show had a bigger food hall, displays of rural crafts, vintage tractors, equine classes, sheepdog trials and fell races, before harness racing brought it to a close.