The Springfield farm start up remembered by Rodney Mee.
From the age of 18 I spent my college years at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, from 1954 to 1956, leaving college when I was aged 20. It was half way through my college years when I decided to make a career out of farming, so in late 1955 Dad & I started looking at a few farms as they came on the market.
I was lucky that I had got a small trust fund, set up by my Mum (when my mother and father got divorced) but I still needed more funding to help purchase a farm. So with the help of a Barclays manager, I was able to borrow £10,000 to help put the wheels in motion. Dad & I saw about 20 different farms up & down the country but they were all a lot more than I could afford, with my top budget being £10,000.
My brief for the farm was simple; ‘to buy as much land as possible, for as little money as possible’. After looking at various locations it was obvious that Herefordshire and Wales were home to probably the cheapest land in the country and fit my brief.
My luck eventually came in when the farm at Steensbridge came on the market in April 1956. So Dad & I went to the auction at The Royal Oak in Leominster on 20th April 1956, just 8 days after my 20th birthday, with the intenton to buy the farm. But I was up against about 50 other local farmers who all also wanted to buy some cheap land.
After bidding against the local farmers I eventually bought the Farm with the land and buildings for £9,800, averaging at about £64 per acre! The land on the farm was in very bad condition & it had been farmed badly for years. The farm house was almost derelict with only water pumped from the stream on the other side of the road, the electric had only just been put in and was very basic, just one light bulb per room.
Springfield Farm originally started off with a milking herd, but I knew it couldn’t make me any money. Beryl reared her 6 turkeys in the lean to shed by the side of our Kitchen as Christmas presents for family and friends. The Turkeys were a success and then the next logical step was rearing chickens to be sold weekly, and the rest as they say is history!