The rain never stopped but 2012 was a success for some
THIS week sees the concluding part of our review of farming in 2012 and a reminder of the best of North Devon farming in spite of the rain, as Richard Howe reports...
In hindsight ,we already overlook those few days when the sun did shine in 2012.
And there were indeed a few of those days.
The little warmth we had during the summer was not enough to save North Devon Show from cancellation, but Woolsery's big event went ahead, as did those in Mid Devon and Holsworthy.
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Paige Marsden from Shebbear is pictured winning her Dairy Junior Showman title along with the Lewis Heard Perpetual Trophy.
Among the show triumphs was a milestone for teenage shepherd Kitty Lane of Winkleigh whose confidence as a 10-year-old had been dented by a frightening encounter with fighting bulls in the Devon County showring.
She's gradually worked her way back into competitions and scored a series of show successes during 2012 with her family's pedigree Exmoor Horn sheep.
She told the Journal during the summer: "The sheep have really helped me and I'm hoping to go back and show cattle again."
Meanwhile the bee colonies of North Devon were having a rough time, as Jack Mummery of the area Beekeepers Association explained: "The season has been a torrid time for honey bees all down to the lousy weather."
The colonies were swarming over a longer period because of being cooped up inside their hives by the rain.
He was hoping for a better September.
It never came.
However 700 people did enjoy some good weather at South Molton's annual sheep fair where one ram from the Irwin farm at Kings Nympton sold to more than £1,000.
The debate over genetically modified (GM) crops hit the headlines when Tapeley Park's organic farmer, Hector Christie, was fined for damaging some plants in a trial field of GM wheat at the Rothamstead Research Centre in Hertfordshire.
He then told the Journal he would rather go to jail than pay the fine and on the farming pages we carried a two-page spread on his case against GM and that of a scientist who believes there's no evidence of GM causing more harm than traditional farming methods.
There was nothing modified about Leonard Richards' best Devon Closewool ram when it came to the breed's autumn show and sale at Blackmoor Gate market.
The handsome shearling broke the breed record at £1,080 and earned Leonard, from North Heasely, three show rosettes as well as a welcome trophy.
"He's a very good sheep," he told the Journal.
Because of the rain the grain harvest in North Devon was weak, but not, we found out, totally lost.
We were on hand when some late barley was brought in by contractor Ivan Gay at Chittlehampton.
It was a forlorn sight, flattened by weeks of cold and wet but it still proved a reasonable crop once lifted by the combine.
October was not a lot better but there was sunshine in the smiles of Adam and Oliver Hill of Exmoor who won a £3000 award from the Exmoor Society, the first presentation of a new Pinnacle Prize for young entrepreneurs.
Farming, they said, is all they've ever been interested in, and their plan was to spend the money on new equipment to support their contracting business on the moor.
And as the year drew to a close another young farmer, Ian Pugsley, and his family, looked forward to a new life at High Bickington. He and his wife, Natasha, were picked from dozens of good applicants interviewed by Devon County Council to take the tenancy of Lower Farm in the village.
The council was letting two of its 75 holdings and the Pugsleys told the Journal while they may like the rural lifestyle their ambition is to make the tenancy a commercial success.
If they enjoy anything like the farming career of Parracombe dairy and sheep man Brian Nicholls they will be proud.
We reported how Brian took to market in Exeter 750 Holstein cows he'd bred from the 16 he inherited from his father 50 years ago. Reflecting on the herd's pedigree and enormous expansion he said: "I suppose I must have liked it."