There’s encouraging news from the UK for all of us who own farmland. According to the Financial Times‘ House & Home rural living special (I agree, it is), farmland prices are soaring over there, while country house (see below — when they say country house, they mean Country House) values are dropping.
Just how soaring are those farmland prices, you ask? Well, according to Edward Sugden at Property Vision realty, farmland in the UK has turned into “a safe haven, performing very well against almost every other asset class except gold.”
FT reports that pasture land as well as arable land is worth approximately double, on average, what it was in 2005. It’s about time, if you ask me. This is valuable stuff, as anyone with it, and with horses, knows.
I love my pastures, which are extraordinary for the part of the world where I live, the foothills of the Berkshires. They’re virtually rock-free (thank you, my farmer predecessors), divided by thousands of running feet of stone walls, and they’re the perfect mix of timothy, clover and everything else that horses like.
I know I’m getting carried away but this is what happens when I get started talking about my pastures, and I know it can get boring pretty darn quick for anyone who isn’t a farmer. But my family indulges me, and that’s why I was so happy to find this book under the Christmas tree a few years ago: Managing Grass for Horses by Elizabeth O’Beirne-Ranelagh (she lives in Cambridge, England and has both arable and pasture land, so she’s no doubt pretty happy right now).
Ms. O’Beirne-Ranelagh enlightened me that my pastures are “species-rich acid grassland,” and advised me not to lime or harrow (if I had other grassland, she advises liming no more than once every five years). I’ve followed her somewhat heretic (at least here in the US) advice, and I can honestly say there’s no more beautiful pasture anywhere than on my little farm.
As much as I hope never to leave it, I also hope it will be carried upward on a wave of enhanced value traveling across the ocean. That would make me feel so much better about the $3000 estimate I got yesterday to repair my beloved Long tractor.
Happily, though, we have our own rural living special on my road, and I can hook my Woods cutter up to someone else’s three-point hitch. My Yankee-Irish horsewhispering boyfriend has a few folks to talk to on up the dirt road, and we’ll see who offers us a good trade. I’d like the option of the weather holding out long enough for us to finish that final mow, cut short by the grinding gears of our tractor, for splendor and happy horses next spring.