Farm life on Oakwood Grange

Another Year of Farming and Videos


It seems as if the past 5 months has been nothing but Sheepdog videos, Border Collie programs and more Border Collies. I’ve had Border Collies coming out of my ears, and yet the 3 young Border Collies that I was supposed to have started this fall are still sitting out there waiting for me.

December has arrived and I have just laid to rest the final of this year’s sheepdog programs, the Brace competition from this year’s ISDS Supreme sheepdog Championship, held in September near Ross on Wye. Before that I completed the Top 5 Finalists, and the Highlights of the 2005 ISDS Supreme. So they are completed, sleeves made and everything has been sent off for marketing at the ISDS head quarters in England. A big relief!

After we returned from the ISDS World Sheepdog Trials in Ireland, we decided to produce an extra couple of videos of the trial. It was an obvious for the World Trial and with the Semi Finals being such a major part of this competition, to produce a video solely on the Semi Finals. This needed more coverage than

only being part of the Highlights program. Norman Lorton, CEO of the ISDS, the International Sheep Dog Society, also suggested that there could be an interest in having a video of the complete top 5 runs at each of their major trials. So we have put these 2 DVDs from the World Trial together, the Semi Finals and the

Top 5 Finalists, in one case and marketing them as a set, and at the same price as usual, $24.95 for the 2. Hopefully that doesn’t take away from the main video, the Highlights, in consideration to the amount of work that goes into it. We’ll soon find out. For the International I made the 2 DVD set with the Top 5 and also the Brace Championship. Yes, we’re into DVDs now. So much better to work with and send out.

Hopefully everyone will buy a DVD player soon, possibly a great idea for Christmas. Buy a DVD player and forget about buying VHS ever again.

Filming these trials is always interesting and for the World trial in July my 18-year-old daughter, Katherine, came along to help with an extra camera. This meant that she could concentrate on interviews, plus some competition footage when time allowed, and by doing so leave me to worry about the actual footage of the competition. It worked out really well. I also think that Katherine was great PR for myself and Rural Route Videos. I never really have the chance to visit and meet the handlers, always suffering from this tunnel vision of getting the best job done of the runs, etc., and by doing so appearing almost anti social. Katherine was well received by everyone and so I really appreciated her help. Con McGarry called me over one day and asked, “How come an ugly Bugger like you has such a great daughter like your Katherine”? All I could think of to say was, “She takes after my wife, Jane”

The Supreme was held in England this past September and on one of the finest fields; a real challenge for the competitors, but excellent to view for the spectators. Pretty decent weather, especially a sunny final day, made the event even more successful. When I think back on some of the terrible rains and winds from years past, at the Supreme, we’ve been pretty fortunate this year, There was the year when the wind at Aberystwyth blew the stands over backwards and another year when the torrential rain collapsed the roof on the stand that I was filming from.

For Jane and I, this was a memorable year with the youngest of our daughters leaving home to go to university. Home alone after 26 years of raising kids. Actually it’s just terrific, nothing to do with our kid’s history of bad behavior, as this has never been the case, but just a chance for the two of us to get to know each other again. The 3 girls are all pretty close around us here and as yet none of them has decided to move to some far off place.

For many farmers in Manitoba, 2005 will be year to quickly forget. The heavy rains in the spring flooded much of the farmland leaving over a million acres of crop land unseeded. But for us these conditions worked out fine, Haying was a little frustrating but we had a bumper crop of both hay and pasture and so the calves and the lambs all did well. Plus it has been the year that the US border to Canadian cattle has re-opened and so a reasonable price has returned for our livestock.

We just have a smaller farm, 320 acres with 40 some cows and 65 ewes and then the usual barnyard chickens and 7 Border Collies and a few acres of crop. As a small farmer I was encouraged to hear from a “fellow small time farmer” in Alberta just recently. John is looking to expand into some pasture raised hogs

and is looking at the Berkshire breed as his choice for his operation. I still have the one Berkshire sow remaining although she’d been away on holiday for the past few years and so not part of our farm yard, as I write this. However, John sells naturally grown produce from his farm and receives a really decent $ for his work. I wish there were more producers out there who could grasp the challenge of making a small farm work. There certainly are consumers who would like to buy decently produced produce, naturally or traditionally grown, without the need for excessive chemicals and, as far as livestock is concerned, raised in a humane environment. Is there a good magazine to represent these producers? I would certainly like to find one. The Harrowsmith Magazine, of the late 70’s, was a very down to earth publication for the small producers. It has changed to a more glossy magazine now and seems to be aimed at a more affluent market.

Anyone know of a good small time farmer magazine?

For my video production business, this has also been a year when I have had the chance to work on many different contract videos, probably the busiest I have even been. It’s been very rewarding to have had the chance to work with such positive clients. Next year seems to be shaping up as a busy year as well!

Christmas is just around the corner. I am to become a grand father in the next month, a new experience indeed. Bethan and Ron farm south of our farm by some 10 minutes. Ron and his brother also run a welding and manufacturing shop on their farm, a vibrant and busy business. So we’ll have all the kids around at the end of the month. Katherine will be back from university and Ceri from her teaching. If we have a little more snow we’ll have the team hooked up to the sleigh and take in a good winter’s drive.

Katherine is planning on getting her dog sled out as soon as she gets home and I know the dogs are ready for the challenge. Winter’s here for another year.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas season and a healthy and enjoyable 2006

Want to read more? Check these out!

  • World Sheepdog Trials It's Friday 15th July and Katherine and I have just got back from Ireland and the 2005 World Sheepdog Trials, held at Tullamore. The Irish...
  • A Really Rather English Summer After last year's drought and grasshoppers, this year we've had moist and cooler weather. Quite ideal for our farm, a really rather English summer with...
  • An Autumn of Sheepdog Trials It's been the autumn of sheepdog trials for us. In September I travelled to the UK to shoot the 2002 British International in Ireland. That...
  • Scott Glen at the ISDS World Trial 2005 Rural Route Videos is proud to be a sponsor for Scott Glen's attempt at the International Sheep Dog Societies (ISDS) World Championship Trial 2005, representing...
  • Winter is almost over Winter's almost over. It's April 1st tomorrow and the beginnings of thousands of geese are migrating Northwards in the skies overhead our farm. Soon the...
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