THE livestock auction mart can be a dangerous place.

Even domestic farm animals can suddenly become agitated or upset.

I would like to have been given a pound every time a farmer selling a beast in the ring has had to exit quickly only to say, “I can’t understand it, it’s always been very quiet at home”!

Sadly, accidents do happen although thankfully they are rare.

Personally, I have only had one bad incident so far in my career.

It was a typically busy Thursday morning at Penrith Auction Mart thirty years ago. It was only five minutes before start time and as always, farmers were rushing to unload prime cattle at the very last minute.

The alley leading from the loading docks to the numbering race was organised chaos. I was working in that alley trying to get as many cattle into the race as fast as I could. Gates were clanking, cattle blaring and there was good buzz about the place.

Mr Armstrong a director of the company appeared at my side. “We are going to be busy today” he said. I gave a polite reply as I kept and eye on my job.

“How is the trade going to be?” he enquired. I turned to give him my opinion. As I did so I took my eye off the cattle waiting in the pens behind me. Suddenly there was an almighty clatter and I heard the sound of a metal gates being burst open.

“Look out boys!” somebody, shouted. I turned around just as a huge 750-kg Charolais bullock banged straight through the gates directly into our pen. In a moment it was past Mr Armstrong and proceeded to hit me full- on in the stomach. I was bodily lifted onto the animal’s head as it continued to charge up the alley.

I was carried for a full fifteen yards before being thrown down onto the concrete floor of the alley. Whilst I was rolled over and over in the cattle muck, the beast proceeded to step on me with three out of four hooves, one on the shoulder, one in the midriff and one on the “inner thigh”.

I lay in the gutter, poleaxed and unable to breath. Bill Armstrong ambled up as fast as he could. Slowly he bent over me and I raised an arm expecting a hand up. Instead he looked at me quizzically before finally speaking,

“That bullock” he said, “It is mine and I can’t understand it. It’s always been very quiet at home”!

We continue to plough on during Covid 19, in the knowledge that Cumbria has one of the highest rates of infection per population.

It is a worrying time for farmers in so many ways and yet the industry keeps going with the usual stoicism. Businesses across the county are in contingency mode, planning for the worst, hoping for the best.

The road to recovery and regeneration will be long but I do believe it will bring opportunities for the farming community.

We need to be ready to make a good case.

Perhaps our buying public will be ready to listen as to why UK farming and food production is important.

Sadly, I now have less faith in some of our local politicians. Only two Cumbrian MP’s voted to support crucial amendments to the Agriculture Bill. Many in the local farming community are aghast.

*Adam joined the Farmer Network in 2015 initially working three days each week, but has now increased this to four days. He is involved in all facets of the Network working closely with the Board of Directors and the Management Councils to ensure that the Network is delivering what members want and need.

The Farmer Network Ltd is an independent not for profit company that provides help and support to farmers and their businesses. Formed in 2006, the company currently has more than 1,100 members.

They brand themselves as a friendly, grassroots farmer’s organisation with an experienced team of knowledgeable people used to dealing with most queries and challenges that today’s farm business can experience.