About Us

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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fingers crossed for breeding!

This is taken in one of the barns on one of the farms and we are all hoping that these Barn Owls will breed  successfully. There have been Barn Owls present on both farms for the last few years but only one chick was reared in Westhorpe last year and none at Great Ashfield although 3 were fledged from the next door farm. At this time of year they are quite prone to desert if disturbed so every care is taken not to go anywhere near where they are. At the moment the female should be sitting on eggs and I will update on their progress as the summer goes on.

For anyone who wants more on Barn owls the Suffolk Wuildlife Trust have a live link to a box on Redgrave & Lopham fen - http://ispyabarnowl.tumblr.com/ or more information is on - http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/species-and-habitats/species-projects/barn-owl-project/

Wildlife ID competition?

I have had the camera out again, this time over one of the Barn Owl boxes. In a week of recording I have managed to capture 1 Grey Squirrell, 2 Wood Pigeons and this... Any thoughts on what it is?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Turning over a new LEAF!

Yesterday we had the great pleasure of hosting a farm tour and open day for 85 people. This special occasion was the official launch of E.J. Barker & Sons as a LEAF Demonstration Farm.
LEAF stands for Linking Environment And Farming. It is an organisation that we have become more involved with over the past few years. Many of you may have been to an event hosted by them, such as Open Farm Sunday, seen their LEAF Logo on food packaging or you may not heard of them at all. They are an organisation that looks to spread the word within the farming, horticultural and food industries to promote best practice in soil, water and air management along with crop protection using cultural controls. They then look to spread this message out to the community and consumers, telling of all the good work farmers do in the countryside.
We have been LEAF members for a few years and have been carrying out their LEAF Audit which is a question and answer process that helps us to identify areas where we could improve in all aspects of our farming and environmental practice.
We were asked if we would like to be a Demonstration Farm after LEAF came out and had a look around our enterprise. The idea of a demonstration farm is to get people on to the farm and see first hand what can be done and what good practice is all about, using the plans and resources that LEAF provide, to improve the efficiency of the farming operation and to reduce the impact on the environment.  They are said to be LEAF’s Flagship farms and through LEAF you can book up visits for groups of any age to come on a farm and see all these aspects. In return, we get a wealth of knowledge and back-up from them in hosting events and they give us training in many areas of our business.
It was a great honour to be asked and we look forward to working closely with the LEAF team as we take this new chapter of our business forward. In memory of the day, Lord Cranbrook (Past Chairman of English Nature and a Suffolk resident) planted a tree on the farm and officially cut the ribbon on what was a grey and windy day but that did not prevent us from taking a quick tractor and trailer ride around the farm.
More information about LEAF can be found at www.leafuk.org

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Something in the box...?

The remote camera has been out again and has a weeks worth of tremendous footage. For the time being, can you guess what it is?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

YFC Answers and possible a few more questions!

I have had a number of readers ask for the answers to the YFC Valuation day questions that I posted, I have found the answer sheet and so here are the answers that they aim for!  
·         Calculate the cost of re-roofing the farmhouse roof (show your workings).
Calculated from the Insurance rebuild a estimate cost would be £35,000 depending on level of any damage or structure problems that might be found.
  • In the context of residential property, what does ‘Ag Tag’ mean?
A property sublect to agricultural occupancy condition, i.e. the occupant must be employed or last employed in agriucture or widow or widower of such a person.
  • Calculate a basic gross margin for this field, assuming the field is 20 ha (49 acres)
The field they were shown was a field of Winter wheat and the gross market was taken from The John Nix Farm Management Pocketbook 2011 at £985/ha
  • Estimate the average wheat yields (t/acre or t/ha) :-
World Average - 7.1t/ha, UK Average - 7.8t/ha, Lodge Farm Westhorpe - 9.8t/ha, World Record – 15.4t/ha
  • What is the annual investment allowance being reduced to for 2012/13?
  • In renewable energy, what does ‘FIT’ stand for?
Feed in tariff (i.e. £ per kilo watt fed in to the National Grid)
  • Looking at the building used as a carpenters’ workshop, under what legislation could this tenant be protected?
Landlord & Tennant Act 1954
·         The machinery is our three main tractors that I have explained in more detail on other posts!
·         The Butterfly is: a Comma

Just to keep you on your toes here are a couple more questions…….
·         What is the main difference between a lease and a licence?
·         What is an individual’s capital gains tax annual exemption for 2011/12?
·         Describe 4 weeds or crop diseases common in this crop of winter Wheat?
·         Describe 4 HLS options and points available
·         Estimate the price of the following if bought today in a Supermarker (£/Kg or L)

British beef rump silver side joint £       /kg
British unsmoked back bacon £           /kg
Boned shoulder of lamb £         / kg
1 litre of semi skimmed milk £
(Supermarket brand) white sliced load of bread £

·         Estimate the livestock prices for the following sold off farm (p/kg Deadweight or L)
Finished steer cattle £      / kg
65kg fattened pig £       / kg
Finished lamb £      / kg
1 litre fresh milk @ farm quota       p/L


Answers will follow once you have hd a chance to scratch your head!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Land of our Fathers in Westhorpe

On Fridy (20th April) in Westhorpe Village Hall at 7.30pm in aid of the New Village Hall Fund, a special veiwing of our DVD is being organised by local resident Phil Aldous. Ticket donations of £3/person can be booked on 07578336594, light refreshments will be avaliable during the showing.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Young Farmers’ Valuation Day

Winning Snr Team Hadleigh YFC With Sponsors Ensors & Lacy Scott and Knight

 A couple of weekends ago we hosted the Suffolk Young Farmers’ Farm Valuation day, this is an event for all the Suffolk clubs: senior, junior and associate members.  It is kindly sponsored by Ensors Accountants and Lacy Scott & Knight Land Agents.
This was the first year we have hosted the event and we were really interested to see what it was all about and also how we could put our own unique twist to this testing event.
The clubs enter teams of three members which are given questions on a number of areas of farm valuation and farming knowledge. This year the questions were based over 5 different areas: Machinery Valuation, Residential Property, Commercial Property & Accountancy, Species Identification and In-field Valuation.
Here are some example questions. See how you get on!
·     Calculate the cost of re-roofing the farmhouse roof (show your workings).
  • In the context of residential property, what does ‘Ag Tag’ mean?
  • Calculate a basic gross margin for this field, assuming the field is 20 ha (49 acres)
  • Estimate the average wheat yields (t/acre or t/ha) :- World Average, UK Average, Lodge Farm, Westhorpe, World Record
  • What is the annual investment allowance being reduced to for 2012/13?
  • In renewable energy, what does ‘FIT’ stand for?
  • Looking at the building used as a carpenters’ workshop, under what legislation could this tenant be protected?
·     Describe and Value this machines:
  • Name this Butterfly:

The Young Farmers all seemed to have a great day, the junior members found it difficult but this will be addressed next year so they have their own set of questions, but one Junior team did get their own back by describing our machinery as slightly rusty!
On the day, the newly formed Hadleigh YFC team won the event with a very reasonable 101 out of 150, beating Bury St Edmunds by 2 points. This was the first competition that Hadleigh had entered after the club was formed the week before, so well done them. The winning junior team came from Gipping Valley with a score of 86.

Winning Jnr Team Gipping Valley YFC with Sponsors Ensors & Lasy Scott and Knight
Young Farmers is a great organisation for all ages from 10 -26. You or your child does not have to be from a farming background, just need to be interested in what goes on in the countryside and want to meet some like minded people. The clubs host a number of social events throughout the year as well as have competition events between them every few weeks. More info can be found at http://suffolkyoungfarmers.com/ or http://www.nfyfc.org.uk/ 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Farm Update

Spring has arrived and the sun is shining, however snow and sleet have been forecast for the Easter weekend!
Work on the farm has really kicked into action. We have had another unusually dry and warm winter and so the crops have been growing non stop. This has meant that the winter wheat sown in early September is very lush and already looks as you would expect at the end of April!  This is not necessarily a problem.  It just means that myself, Toby, our Crop Doctor, and Nick, the Spray Operator, need to be on the ball with monitoring crop disease and pests because in sunshine they really start to multiply while the plants rattle through the growth stages into summer.
To keep up with this rapid growth we have been applying Nitrogen fertiliser to the crops, which acts as a much needed plant food, making them strong so they don’t come under stress. The Oil Seed Rape is really growing fast.  You can drive past a field one day and then the next day you drive past again and immediately see the difference in height. This is due to the long roots picking up all the nitrogen there, which has been broadcast by us onto the soil, dissolved by rain and dews and picked up by the root system of the plants deep in the soil.
The spring crops of our Naked Oats, Grass Seed, Linseed and Spring Beans are now in the soil. They all went into very good seed beds and have benefited from the rain over that weekend but the Linseed is still waiting for some more life giving water (As I type the clouds are becoming dark, so fingers crossed the rain will be with us soon).
The Linseed was drilled with two demonstration tractors, as we are looking to change our Caterpillar tracked machine. It was drilled using the most up to date satellite navigation for farm vehicles. This means that the tractor follows the edge of its own worked area over the field and the accuracy is between 2-5cm. The driver does not have to steer, just has to remember to turn round at the end when the alarm sounds! This takes the responsibility off the driver to keep straight, which frees him up to concentrate on the implement that the tractor is pulling, so the applications are done much more sympathetically to the conditions of the field. It means that our fuel and seed bill will be reduced, as we will not be overlapping at all. It will be a costly investment but this reduction in our expenses will mean that the pay back will be relatively quick, as fuel prices are set to increase!
Also on the farm, we are having our annual spring clean and tidy up.  We have got a couple of big events on the horizon, so a tidy yard is called for. Work has also started on the installation of our new solar energy system. This we hope to be up and running in a couple of weeks, so that the majority of our daily electrical energy will be made up of home produced power.  
Spring is a busy time of year but it is a great time as the countryside greens and the wildflowers emerge. Rain is the key to unlocking these beautiful sights and maintaining our crops that currently, ‘touch wood’, look in good shape. We will see what the climate has to give us over the next few months.          BWB