Dairy Talk: Becky Fenton - The most recent escapades have been staff-related problems

One of our good friends once said to us: You should write a book on your farming life. This was mainly due to all our mishaps, bad luck and sometimes stupidity. So I suppose this column gives me the opportunity to keep a note of it all.

clock • 3 min read
Dairy Talk: Becky Fenton - The most recent escapades have been staff-related problems

One of our good friends once said to us: You should write a book on your farming life. This was mainly due to all our mishaps, bad luck and sometimes stupidity. So I suppose this column gives me the opportunity to keep a note of it all.

The last couple of months have been no different, and a little turbulent.

The most recent escapades have been staff-related problems. A few weeks ago I was outside when a policeman pulled up.

He had had reports of a John Deere swerving all over the road and wanted to speak to the driver (our worker).

Turns out he had no license and when they drug tested him it came back positive.

Lesson

Fortunately for us, no third parties were involved, but it served as a lesson learned to always check driving licences and not to accept someones word alone.

After dismissing that worker, we managed to find another. He had a glowing reference and appeared to be a good candidate. However, from day one there were alarm bells: lateness; taking longer than necessary for breakfast; and going off with the tractor for hours.

On his fourth (and final) day, he put the tractor and trailer in the ditch, denied it and burst a back tyre on the tractor. He was waved off gladly.

Staff (or lack of) appears to be at the forefront for a lot of farmers at the moment. Seeing endless adverts daily and dispersal sales due to no staff is a worrying sight.

Not only is it difficult to find staff, but even harder to find good reliable staff who know which end of the broom to use.

The industry is struggling for manual skilled workers. I recently spoke to Harper Adams about taking on a placement student.

I was informed they are not taking on anymore farmers for the reason that students are no longer interested in on-farm placements.

Students want to explore ancillary careers instead, such as nutrition, land management, reproductive, etc. But these careers can only exist with the existence of farmers.

Out of 120 students, fewer than 10 were going to work on-farm.

Few

The demand to work in the agricultural industry is strong, but very few people want to work on the farm itself.

I struggle to see a solution for this scenario going forward, but the phrase too many chiefs and not enough Indians does come to mind.

We are currently midway through silaging. A very small break in the weather has meant that everything has come at once, trying to silage and get maize in at the same time is challenging.

Having our own silage equipment is advantageous in these small weather breaks. This season we have purchased a new Krone forage wagon and Kuhn twin mowers. Both are performing well and speeding the job up.

Each year I am told we will not need any new machinery next year, but somehow there is always a sales offer which is too good not to miss.

The beef enterprise is growing well, albeit to my dismay. I must have missed the memo about a change in our beef calf protocol.

Having said that, with the rise in prices of beef calves, I have finally convinced Farmer Fenton to sell some. This week we sold seven calves, averaging 295.

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