FARMING MATTERS: This deal is not what we wanted

I don’t usually get political in this column, not least because I write it some way ahead of publication and, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and whatever I write could be seriously out of date before it is read.

Colin MacGregor, former Head of Shearing at British Wool

FARMING MATTERS: Retiring from role with sheep

Years ago I had a pet ewe, a Suffolk/Jacob cross who was chocolate brown in colour. She was a triplet and her mother couldn’t feed all three so I bought her from our neighbour and hand reared her for a year, giving her milk from a bottle and pieces of bread.

COLUMNIST: A brand new rabbit - and some new friends along the way!

COLUMNIST: A brand new rabbit - and some new friends along the way!

It’s not often that we add to our little family of furry animals but we’ve made quite the exception lately. 
We have a 8yr old black Bombay cat called Toby, as well as Rupert, a 1yr old tabby kitten, and finally Alfie, a 3month old white dwarf lop house rabbit. Whilst popping into our local Pets At Home in the Vale Retail Park, Aylesbury, to buy some extra pet treats and have a course of bunny booster injections we couldn’t resist looking at their wonderful collection of animals.
From baby mice, rats and hamsters to guinea pigs, rabbits and fish; there’s something for every animal lover big and small. It’s become customary for us to coo over baby animals each time that we stop by for a bag of cat treats, litter or nibble sticks and there are always plenty of families and children giggling over the bunnies hopping about or watching the 
hamsters whizzing around at light speed on their wheels. My son has always been mesmerised by fish for which there are magnificent species in every shape, size and colour of the rainbow.
One thing we particularly liked about the store were the pet demonstrations we’ve seen where children were able to hold the animals, learn about their feeding habits, how to properly care for them and ask any questions they may have. 
Not only does this 
educate families on how to care for animals they may have little experience of, but it also helps to identity which kind of pet would best suit their family and specific needs. 
It’s a wonderful thing for children to get involved with and also gives the babies valuable cuddle time to get used to being handled in preparation for their new families and forever home. 
We found ourselves falling in love with a little brown and blonde lion-haired rabbit who was hopping around his enclosure bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and my daughter fondly likened him to Simba from The Lion King with his majestic mane. 
Deep in conversation with a friendly member of staff about the quirky characters of the latest bunny recruits, it became apparent that the animals they tend to are much more than just customers to them - to them they are family.
It’s rare that you find such a cheerful, energetic, thoughtful and incredibly knowledgeable team of staff who went above and beyond to assist us in adding another bunny to our family - our little Simba. 
From giving him a health check in front of us to helping the children to handle him, advising on which food, litter and toys work best and tips on how to raise a house bunny safely; it was quite possibly the most informative and useful advice we’ve ever had about a pet and something that you don’t quite get from online shopping or text books. 
It’s easy to see why the store is so popular with animal lovers; the pets are always enthusiastic, their enclosures spotless and every feed, toy, treat, bedding and accessory you can imagine are all under one roof. 
We may have arrived at Pets At Home for a veterinary appointment in-store but we left with new (human) friends and a fluffy addition to our family!

The Metropolitan Mounted Police Activity Ride

Eventful day at the county show

My visit to Bucks County Show this year was quite different from previous years. For one thing I had my daughter with me for the first time in many years, which was rather lovely, and reminded us both of her visits when she was a child and had to follow me around whilst I interviewed people for multiple news stories and spreads in the paper.

Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

Day of farm sale gets ever nearer

Throughout the years I have been writing this column I have written before about farm sales, and I have always appreciated the emotional impact on a farming family of losing not only their business but their way of life.

Volac calf growth app

FARMING MATTERS: Smartphone app aids calf rearing

Technology has changed our lives in many areas - at work, at home, leisure, shopping, banking, the list is endless. Technology has also changed the face of farming, with herd records kept online, satellite navigation aiding fieldwork and special apps to assist business plans.

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