A good farm manager must have many talents to run a successful business. One of those abilities must surely be the capacity to maintain an enthusiasm to learn and take on new challenges. A farm has a constantly changing “shop floor” on which to ply ones trade and those who do not change with the times will eventually succumb.
If the farm happens to also be a research farm, with all the additional hassle of scientists crawling around all over the place, demanding a little bit of this here and none of that over there, then life can become increasingly difficult. Add to that scenario, 3068 visitors coming to look around the farm in one year (2014 figure) and you might begin to feel just a little sympathy for the manager of this particular farm business!
The farm in question is the GWCT’s Allerton project based at Loddington in Leicestershire and the farm manager requiring our collective sympathy is one Phil “Jarvo” Jarvis. But before you feel too much compassion, this guy seems to positively revel in the frenetic world of farming a research based enterprise and indeed, seems to always be adding something new to his daily agenda!
Phil has recently taken on the role of county chairman for the National Farmers Union (NFU) in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. Meanwhile, it seemed only the other day that he completed an MSc in the management of field headlands, done in his “spare” time.
He has also started up a small flock of Leicester Longwool sheep, a rare breed with only around 450 breeding ewes left, which of course appear to be absolutely thriving under his care. On my latest visit to the farm, I now find that, with the help of some others, he has turned his hand to hedge laying – and a very fine job was made too!
Perhaps the most remarkable trait of this “farm manager extraordinaire” however, is that he always appears to be so jovial – even when he had an invite to the Cheltenham Gold cup – but could not go as he had to show a group around the farm. He told me “ Well, looking on the bright side, just think how much money I have saved in lost bets, plus the day after will start hang-over free, which would certainly not have been the case had I gone”!!
In this world of the “computer says no” it is so refreshing to follow Jarvo’s career – but hey, slow down a bit will you – you’re making the rest of us feel rather inadequate!
Phil talking about his newly laid hedge to one of many visitor groups
I seem to recall that most of my friends back in the 70s had a haircut similar to this Leicester Longwool!