Finding time in the farming calendar even for important family events can often be difficult. For Jessica Sayers, persuading her then husband-to-be James to take time off from their County Tyrone farm in order to get married last year was “a nightmare.”
Pinning him down to a date in August, Jessica booked the reception at a hotel in Derry, before setting out to find a suitable present for James, beginning her search at the Massey Ferguson combine graveyard at Alnwick, Northumberland. But with help from friends locally, she managed to source an old MF 35X tractor (which James immediately put to use on the farm).
But what of the honeymoon? Going away immediately following the wedding was ruled out by James as being too busy a time on the farm, but he acceded to the idea of October. Jessica booked three days in Venice, followed by five days in a farm cottage in Yorkshire (to let James recover from his urban experience).
What she didn't tell him – until she had to – was that she had been in touch with the Massey Ferguson combine factory at Breganze, a mere 40 miles from Venice, arranging to join a tour of the factory and ensuing reception. “The factory tour was amazing,” Jessica reports, “but the wonderful Massey Ferguson people there had also organised a special wedding cake and a fantastic meal for us. James and I were over the moon.
“James is a very hard man to please, but we will keep our memories of Breganze forever.”
The farm business, which James runs with his three brothers, extends to a total of 190 hectares and supports a dairy/beef/feed barley regime. The dairy herd is 250-strong, while there are 45 beef cows, with all calves reared at home.
In terms of machinery, the farm is also a shrine to a range of Massey Ferguson icons from decades past – as well as more recent models. “We've got an MF 27 combine, an MF 187 combine – dating from the early 1970s and still going - while on the tractor front, there are three MF 6480s, a 3085, 135, 165, 175 and a 185,” says James.