Farming the picturesque fields around Buttermere in the midst of the Cumbrian Fells has its appeal but also its challenges – not least coping with the limitations of traditional stone buildings.For Alan Beard and his partner Jane Holligan, the challenge is especially acute because as a National Trust tenant, Alan is unable to put up any modern buildings for his sheep enterprise.“We’re using buildings designed as horse and cart sheds for fattening lambs, and there’s very narrow and limited access for modern machinery,” he explains. “Things are a bit tight in all directions when it comes to cleaning them out.”
Mr Beard runs Herdwick and Swaledale sheep with common land grazing rights for 1000 head on the Fells, and grows fodder on 150 acres of in-by land at Wilkinsyke Farm in Buttermere village.Having relied on a kit-built tractor from China for the past three years, he recently upgraded to a shiny new Landini 1-55M from Newton Trailer Centre as a way of investing in a product that promises added performance and durability.
Tony Blackburn of Newton Trailer Centre took on the Landini agency two years ago, adding the tractors to his Bateson livestock trailer franchise. Last year he was appointed to handle Vicon grassland machinery and Fleming pasture maintenance equipment.The products are supported by staff members Anthony Gibson, who carries out servicing and repairs in the workshop or on farm, and Paul Lowthian who looks after supplies of parts, tools and service consumables at the Newton Reigny premises near Penrith.“We’ve supplied a number of different Landini tractors in the area, including smaller versions of Alan Beard’s tractor for dairy yard scraping with mechanical or hydrostatic drive,” says Tony Blackburn. “The bigger Powerfarm has a reputation for being ‘bulletproof’ and together with a simple specification it makes an ideal stockman’s tractor.”Farms wanting a bit more muscle and more gears go for the similar Landini 5-H Series, or the Powermondial, which has power outputs up to 121hp, a more sophisticated transmission and a more spacious cab.A weatherproof cab is one comfort Alan Beard has to do without when he is working in and around the buildings because his new 54hp Landini 1-55M would be too tall with one fitted.“It actually makes it really easy to hop on and off, which is something you’re doing quite a lot with yard work,” he points out. “The tilting steering wheel can be moved out of the way and with the gear levers positioned to the side you’ve a clear platform and a good-size step.”The tractor comes with a simple 12x12 transmission and a joystick-operated front loader with mechanical self-levelling has been fitted for clearing out sheds and handling bales.It has a Euro universal hitch to save having to buy new implements and the optional third hydraulic service operates a muck grab and a bale unroller for dispensing silage bales into feeders.Come summer, Mr Beard will hopefully be soaking up the sun on his open-air tractor as he heads into the fields tedding, rowing up and baling hay with its tough build but light-weight tread.“I’m looking forward to that,” he says. “It has a good spec for a little tractor; I’m really impressed with it.”