FARMERS are continuing to work hard throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but for some the weather is more of a challenge than the lockdown restrictions.

Farmers across Herefordshire battled what the Met Office said was one of the wettest and warmest winters on record.

Across December, January and February, the country was deluged with an average total of 469.7mm of rain.

This was enough to rank it the fifth wettest winter on record, according to the Met Office.

But for one farm in the Golden Valley, the period from October to March was a “nightmare” as the land never seemed to dry up.

As the Hereford Times #BackingHerefordshireFarming – in which where we look at problems facing the industry – continues, Vowchurch sheep and beef farmers Gareth and Madeline Boaz said this was the worst winter for them yet

“For myself and Madeline the coronavirus hasn’t affected us at all hardly, really, you’ve got to be in isolation and we’re pretty much in isolation anyway most of the time,” Mr Boaz said.

“From that point of view not much has changed to be honest, apart from going to market.”

He added: “When coronavirus started up in March we were just starting our second lot of lambing, so that’s all hands on deck. You don’t even know what day of the week it is half the time.

Mrs Boaz added: “The weather was the worst for us, from October until March. We had to bring the cows in early. They were in from the end of October and have only just sort of gone out.

“It’s the expense really, because you’ve got the stock a lot longer you’re using more straw.

“That’s costly because we don’t produce our own straw; we have to buy it in.”

The pair lamb earlier than what is traditional, starting in January, but the weather made this increasingly difficult as they only have one shed which can be used for lambing.

Usually the first batch of lambs are out in fields by the middle of February, ready for the ewes lambing in March.

Mrs Boaz added: “This year, because we had to keep all of our early lambs and ewes in, we couldn’t bring any of our in-lamb ewes in so they were just stuck out in awful wet conditions.

“We couldn’t do anything about it because we couldn’t put our little lambs out as most of them pretty much would’ve just died.

“It was just a nightmare.”

Mr Boaz comes from a farming background, growing up on a farm near Worcester, and he and his wife took the lease over on Turnastone Court Farm from the Countryside Restoration Trust, an organisation with an emphasis on wildlife.

An education centre will soon open on the farm so children can be taught about farming and where their food comes from, the trust said.

CRT chairman Robin Page said: “On behalf of the Countryside Restoration Trust I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to British farmers.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated a huge reliance on the UK food and farming industry to keep supermarket shelves stocked and help with increasing demand to shop local. With many venturing into the great outdoors for their precious hour window of exercise per day, there’s never been a better time to witness the joy of nature in all its glory.

“When the pandemic ends, the CRT will launch its new education programme, MOSAIC – Farming & Wildlife, at Turnastone Court Farm in Herefordshire.

“MOSAIC will help children continue this journey to learn more about the farm to fork process and everything in between.”