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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Tiny tycoon Robbie adds bacon to eggs

MEET Tynedale’s youngest farming entrepreneur – he’s topped the mart at Hexham with his sheep and launched a successful business selling eggs.

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Budding farmer: Robbie Binks from Barrasford has ventured into keeping picks as well as hens for eggs.

Now eight-year-old Robbie Binks from Barrasford has turned his attention to pigs.

The tiny tycoon bought the Saddleback pigs, a traditional English breed, eight weeks ago to fatten them up for sale at Christmas.

More than a year ago the farming fanatic saved up his pocket money and tooth fairy pennies and bought hens and a chicken coop.

Since then he’s made a tidy profit selling eggs around the village, and displayed them on the bar at the Barrasford Arms for customers to buy.

Robbie, whose parents Tony and Monica run the award-winning pub in the village, keeps his seven pigs and small flock of sheep at nearby farm Fell Lane, belonging to Michael Lishman.

The porkers are growing at a rate of knots, being fed on kitchen peelings such as carrots, broccoli, turnip tops and potato skins.

Robbie says he’s always been in love with the outdoors and aims to buy his own large farm one day.

“When I’m old enough I’m going to join Stamfordham Young Farmers,” he said.

“I love working with the animals and with the money I make from the pigs I’ll hopefully buy some cows and calves. I was about six when I first started helping Michael, and before that I helped John Walton who sold me two of his sheep.”

Barrasford’s budding businessman has so far spent his earnings on a quad bike, hens and an Xbox!

Michael has already negotiated a wage with the eight-year-old, who spends all his evenings and weekends at the farm, but Robbie says he’d rather have more sheep.

“I want to build up my flock,” he said. “I really want to buy a John Deere tractor as they’re lovely to drive!”

Robbie’s pigs will kill out at between 65 and 70 kilos and should make £100 each side when sent to the abattoir.

All seven are from the same litter bought from Fontburn Rare Breeds in Rothbury, where his dad Tony sources much of his meat. The top chef has even invested in a new mincer specially to make sausages.

The Hexham East First School pupil has given the pigs names, which is a risky move since they’re headed for the dinner plate. But the young-ster’s flair for making a profit outweighs any sentiment.

“My favourite’s called Percy and my mum’s is Posh,” said Robbie. “I don’t get attached to them, because I wouldn’t let them go if I did.”

Last year Robbie inspired the Barrasford Arms’ ‘lambing dinners’ takeaway scheme which sustains farmhands at lambing time.

Spending up to 24 hours a day in the lambing sheds, he told his dad that all Michael had time to eat was cornflakes.

“I cook carry-out meals that farmers can just bung in the oven to heat up,” said Tony. “Robbie was behind the idea and it’s gone from strength to strength.”

And instead of picking out the latest comic for his bedtime reading, Robbie opts for an old farming favourite – Farmers’ Weekly!

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