For years, George Trewby ran an arable and dairy operation from Yew Tree Farm at Ibthorpe in Hampshire.

Then when his son John came back from prep school, he came out of dairy and moved more into arable. “We were all arable for about 20 years until I was about 40,” John Trewby remembered. After that, the farm went into sheep, and John Trewby used to buy about 10,000 store lambs a year at Skipton, Tow Law and Hexham and other markets.

Land for the sheep was rented from Hungerford across to Oswestry and on to Winchester to graze any sheep which he had not sold. “We used a big four wheel drive Deutz tractor and a Russian disc plough. A lad used to leave here at about 5am with the tractor, trailer, four tonnes of fertiliser and seed, the disc plough and behind that the fertiliser spreader which was filled up with seed as well.

“We borrowed the rollers from the land owners and did about 30 or 40 acres a day by going on to the stubble with this disc plough. We would put the stubble turnip seed on with the fertiliser spreader and go back across it in a different direction with the disc plough to try to cover the seed over a bit.” The roller followed, and as long as there was a drop of rain, the turnips grew for the sheep.

Once he had been to the markets, Mr Trewby loaded five or six lorries at a time and drove round selling several hundred sheep at a time to different farmers. If they didn’t want them, the sheep ended up on the rented grazing land.

“If they bought really well, we often dropped the sheep at Banbury market,” Mr Trewby said. “If they could turn anything over a pound, we would let them go there. Out of the original five lorries, perhaps two would come back to Yew Tree Farm where they would go through a race and be sized, weighed and graded – and that would decide where we took them.”

That system continued for about 15 years, and Mr Trewby’s best year was when he sold about 9,800 fat lambs – but he used to sell a lot more as stores. The sheep were no particular breed – just what Mr Trewby’s wallet told him that he could afford.

Pictured: Food waste from Abel & Cole is brought to Yew Tree Farm on pallets and taken in the tractor out to the pig paddocks.

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