Training opportunities exist for young farmers

by Rosie Davies

I’m a farmer’s daughter, born and bred on a beef and sheep farm near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire. Farming is an important part of my life, and goes back many generations of the family over the years. Being brought up on a farm in the countryside has helped me choose the kind of path I want to follow in the industry.

As part of my GCSE’s, I decided to study level 2 Agriculture at Coleg Sir Gâr, Gelli Aur. After finishing school, I went to Gelli Aur College to study level 3 in Agriculture full-time, and then finished by studying a Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Animal Science where I graduated during summer 2021.

During my time at college, I enjoyed every second of the learning and the social side. It was a privilege to visit the different farms and see the systems they operated, and also learned a lot of the practicalities, much of which I can use to improve the system and the way our farm is run. I enjoyed the social side by meeting and working with people across the county, and made lifelong friends in the process.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand with the college. We spent three weeks visiting different farms, agricultural businesses and also staying overnight on farms to help and learn about their lifestyle. During the three weeks we started our journey in Auckland and travelled down the 'North Island' and then crossed to the 'South Island' and finished in Queenstown. The highlight of the trip for me was visiting Mount Linton, the largest beef and sheep farm in the 'South Island'.

“We’re ready for a full year of competitions and socialising in 2022”

 

by Anna Jones, YFC Marketing and Communications Officer

After two strange years of virtual meetings and competitions for the Young Farmers' Clubs, it was lovely to see our members back again in a busy and packed programme towards the end of last year.  Looking back at the end of 2021, it’s clear that the YFC is ready for 2022 - a year full of competing, adventures and socialising.

There was talent galore on display at the YFC Eisteddfod on the 20th of November, at Bont Pavilion, Pontrhydfendigaid. The Eisteddfod was hosted by Brecknock YFC, Mr David Price was the Eisteddfod Chairman, and Mrs Lynne Griffin and Mrs Ceri Havard were the Eisteddfod Presidents. Pure entertainment from start to finish, with prizes being won by clubs from all over Wales.

The Chair was designed by Rhianwen Jones, a member of Sennybridge YFC, skilfully crafted by David Davies of Hay on Wye, and the Chair was won by Yr Adar Gleision, Ianto Jones of Ceredigion YFC. Carwyn Jones of Rhosybol YFC, Anglesey was the proud winner of the Crown, again designed by Rhianwen, and crafted by Brân Davies, Ysgol Calon Cymru, Builth Wells.

The Denbighshire FUW Trophy, for the winning Federation in the homework section, was awarded to Ceredigion and Montgomery as joint winners of the section, with Carmarthenshire Federation winning the Elonwy Phillips Shield for the stage competitions.

At the end of the event, many clubs had the opportunity to celebrate their victories, but only one federation was the overall winner. Carmarthenshire was in third position, Ceredigion in second position, just short of victory. The winners of the Mansel Charles Shield were Clwyd YFC.

Oinc Oink and the oink oinks going from strength to strength

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first Cornel Clecs column of 2022 - let’s hope that we’ll all have a full year of good health, success and happiness.  

One North Wales family enjoyed great success and happiness when competing at the first Royal Welsh Winter Fair held after Covid. Huw, Ela, Emyr and Anest Roberts of Pwllheli are enjoying considerable success in the pig world, with their company Oinc Oink now a well-known brand providing local Welsh pork and breaking new ground within the catering industry.  

Here’s Ela to explain a bit more about Oinc Oink's background: "The desire to keep pigs started after attending the Winter Fair in Builth Wells in 2006," explains Ela. "In March 2007, we bought two pregnant Welsh gilts, who had piglets in May, which we fattened and sold the meat to family and friends. During this time the idea of ​​establishing a company was developed and Oinc Oink came into existence.

"Although there was no intention initially to show pigs at shows, we did attend the Spring Fair in Builth Wells in 2008, with two gilts. We had great success and we caught the showing bug.

"Fast forward to today, we have won the main championship at the three shows held annually in Builth Wells (before Covid). In 2016 we had the privilege of winning Pedigree Pig Breeder of the Year, hosted by the British Pig Association (BPA), at a national awards evening in London. We have also had success with our produce receiving a Gold award for our sausages as well as winning Supreme Champion for our Welsh pork and cheese sausages throughout Britain and Ireland.  

“In 2014 we embarked on an initiative of pig roasting, which is now a very important part of Oink Oink. We have travelled as far as Coventry and Birmingham with our pork, but most events are local to North Wales, from weddings, birthdays, food fairs, and even funerals.”

“Countryside and agriculture are the beating hearts of our language, our culture and our communities”

by Gareth Thomas, Vice Chairman Anglesey FUW

The last two years have highlighted the importance of agriculture within our communities, as we all fight a new virus, and see significant changes to every aspect of our lives. There is no doubt that there needs to be a focus on the smaller and local supply chains, and continue to produce the highest quality food.

In these challenging, changing and unknown times, every farmer rolled up his sleeves to carry out the extra work that accompanied the fast demand for food in a productive and outstanding way, and I greatly admire those who work within this amazing industry.

But, although as an industry and as farmers, we are treated as the creators of the world's problems, the reality is quite the opposite. As farmers and as an industry, our roots are the bedrock of the guardianship of our natural resources, not the destroyers as others point out, and, indeed, the heartbeat of our language, culture and communities.

Which meat will be on your plate this Christmas?

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

It's hard to believe that we are now counting down the last few weeks of 2021, another challenging year coming to an end, with everyone hoping that the new year will signify a better time. But what has become increasingly apparent this year is the growing appetite for shopping locally and supporting small local businesses. It's great to see farmers and their families venturing, diversifying and offering farm produce directly from the farm - which is what the customer wants today - knowing and understanding exactly where the produce on the plate comes from - from gate to plate!

With the mention of possible turkey shortages during early autumn this year, are we able to contemplate the traditional Christmas dinner without turkey, and think of an alternative meat? 

Here’s Helen Thomas, FUW's Deputy County Executive Officer in Gwent and Glamorgan to introduce two members who have ventured with their meat boxes:  “Our members Ben and wife Julia run a low input traditional farm in Monmouthshire, where their cattle and sheep are grass fed only. 

Developing a positive mindset

by Sam Carey

To develop a positive mindset, I believe that there are a few basics that set the foundation. These include the following; 

  • Eating well 
  • Drinking less (alcohol) 
  • Sleeping well  
  • and reducing negative influences 

After setting the foundation of the basics seen above, one can focus on developing a positive mindset.  To me, it is like training your muscles, if you want to get stronger then you have to practice. The more often you lift weights and the heavier they get, then the stronger you become. Developing a mental strength is the same. 

What helped me develop a positive mindset was to become aware of my emotions or feelings. Are they positive or negative? It is important to know that you are in control of your thoughts and in essence your feelings. If a negative thought comes into your head, can you get rid of it without harbouring it for a long period. If held onto; it will become a feeling and affect your mood. The challenge is to be able to go through your day without harbouring a single negative thought. It’s a skill and requires practice.  ‘Whatever you practice, you will improve at’  

Chatting, sharing experiences and supporting each other

By Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

“It’s been so busy!” How often do you hear that sentence?! We all have busy lives, for which we must be thankful for. But sometimes we need to take a minute or two to think about ourselves and look after our mental health.

Nerth Dy Ben is a new platform, to do just that, provide an opportunity to chat, share experiences, and most importantly, support each other. Here is Alaw Owen from Nerth Dy Ben to explain more:

Back in February, Nerth Dy Ben was established with the aim of giving individuals a platform, in Welsh, to share their ideas of what mental strength is, and to talk and share experiences on how to maintain mental strength, whilst living and working in rural Wales.

“Some people may take mental strength for granted, but others find it harder to acknowledge their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.  For example, we rarely sit back at the end of a busy day or week and recognise what we have achieved on our 'to do' lists. And how many of us do the opposite and focus on the things that are yet to be done, and even add to the list rather than celebrate what has already been achieved?