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Hello all, Happy New Year.

I am slightly late writing my blog this month and December now seems a long time ago.  The reason I am late is mainly due to the amount of time one of my hobbies takes up and has left me very little time after work to sit down and type.  The hobby I mentioned is my involvement with local theatre.  I do the lighting and sound for a number of shows and pantomimes in the area, and even from time to time appear on stage singing and trying to dance!  Recently I have been involved with the Northallerton pantomime where I was helping with the lighting and special effects, something I enjoy but it does take up a lot of my time.  The pantomime is now over and therefore I find myself with a bit of free time, that is before I start helping out at another pantomime in one of the local villages at the weekend!

One of the highlights in December on our farm was the Christmas fat-stock show at Thirsk Auction Mart, where we entered both cattle and pigs.  The show is something that a lot of farmers look forward to, and many will spend most of the year looking for cattle that have the potential to win the show.  The show is for the best animals in their class for the butcher, so the judges look for best shape, biggest cuts of meat, least fat etc. We entered some cattle into the show and ended up with a 3rd prize which we were really pleased with.  We also entered some pigs into the pig show, this is judged on a pen of 5 pigs and we managed to get two firsts and a second, with one of the first prize pens being judged as "champions", as you can probably imagine, we were very happy with that!  The other nice thing is that butchers want to show that they are buying "the best" so they were competing with each other in the auction afterwards for the champion pigs and therefore they end up paying quite a bit more money for them!

Christmas is a time when butchers need a lot of pigs as a large quantity of pig meat is eaten at that time of year, especially the traditional "Christmas Ham".  It was nice for us that things had been going well up until Christmas so we had a lot of pigs to sell.  Normally we sell approximately 60 pigs a week to George Bolam Butchers at Sedgefield, however during December they were requiring 80 to 90 a week which luckily we were able to supply them with.  They had sold so many pigs that they even wanted a delivery on Christmas Eve so that they would have enough for after the Christmas break.

The other major thing in December was to get the wheat sown on the land that we had combined the maize crop from in November.  This is the latest we have sown wheat, but as it had rained for nearly a month after combining the maize we were unable to get into the field to plough the soil and then sow it with the wheat seeds any earlier.  The problem with sowing wheat so late is that the crows tend to sit on the field and pick out the seeds we have sown, so we have to put decoys up to try and scare them away.  As I write this blog the wheat is just starting to come through so hopefully we have done a fairly good job of keeping the crows off.

That's it and as it is nearly the end of January now, I will be writing my next blog very soon!


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