The Nidderdale Voices column with Don Leeming
Today, as you open your Herald you have the opportunity to say 'Good morning Mr President'. No, we are not addressing Donald Trump, but Mr Don Leeming, president of Nidderdale Agricultural Society and of course a prominent worker for Pateley show.
Born on the edge of the Dale on a small holding in Shaw Mills, Don grew up and was rooted in farming. Long ago as when he was attending Burnt Yates Primary School he used to “bunk off” and attend the auction. So it was no surprise when he left his senior school in Harrogate, that he went to work in the industry that he loved. Wool played a significant part in his early work life as his first job was at Dawson’s farm at Hartwith.
Dawsons combined farming and an association with woollen mills in Bradford and of course wool meant sheep.
As a dating agency, Young Farmers have a lot to answer for because it was there that he met his wife Janet. They started married life in 1968 moving to Corn Close where they had a small dairy herd. Now of course they are well established at West House Farm, Ramsgill, looking after 100 suckler cows, their followers and over 500 sheep.
Describe a typical day
I go round my stock first thing in the morning and sort out difficulties. According to the season, sheep have to be rounded up and the ones on the high moorland brought down for lambing, shearing and dipping.
During these periods our trusty sheep dogs have plenty of exercise. In the Autumn we now send many of our young cattle to market. This saves on winter feed.
Winter is also the time for farm maintenance including ditching, mending walls and general building projects.
On top of all this, there is work for the Agricultural Society by attending meetings and making improvements to the show.
What would be your perfect day out?
I never tire of visiting other Agricultural Shows and I am always looking for new ideas and attractions for our Show.
Now that my son Matthew is more than capable of being in complete charge it gives Janet and I time for holidays.
We like to go abroad and we have even been as far away as New Zealand.
What is your favourite part of the Dale?
Shaw Mills, Pateley and now Ramsgill – we have gradually moved up the Dale. I love the higher ground, the moorlands and my farm.
What is your favourite Nidderdale business? You can’t beat Todd’s for farming needs. Everyone there is so helpful and if they do not have what you want they will make it or get it for you.
What is the biggest change you have seen in Nidderdale?
What a difference the round bailer has made to the making of silage. Now it is all wrapped up in neat, round, plastic parcels where it can pickle away and be ready for use in six weeks. Another big change has been the general use of quad bikes.
For people with sheep out on the moor they are an invaluable help. Now only our three dogs have to do the running.
What makes Nidderdale special and why would you recommend it?
Nidderdale people are so friendly. The Nidderdale Way goes through our farm and I often stop and speak to walkers.
So many of them are surprised that we have time for a friendly chat.
If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?
I have had such a happy and content life with my wife, four children and doing the job that I love. There is nothing I would change!