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Michaelmas, 29 September

Once an important quarter day in the calendar year of the farming world. Traditionally, especially in the south of England with arable farms, it was the date when farms changed hands and tenancies ended or began; farm dispersal sales and tenant valuations were arranged; stock taking valuations were completed for the accounts and rent reviews were settled. It was the most important date in the year. The harvest was in, the new crops were being planted, it was the natural time for arable holdings to change hands. Interestingly, in grassland areas with dairy and stock farms, Lady Day (25 March) denoted a similar anniversary. In this case it was when the winter was over, the cattle were due out on the pasture, the winter hay and silage fodder stocks had been consumed. That springtime date suited the farming season and rota for the areas particularly housing livestock.

Nowadays, neither date seems so important. There is much more flexibility. Farms change hands when the deed is done, often on a lock, stock and barrel takeover, so there no sale or valuation. Negotiation on rents take place when the parties decide. Stocktaking is becoming more of an accountancy exercise - although we valuers would stress the benefit of the annual visit when so many other subjects are discussed and resolved. The 29 September simply does not feature as a landmark date - it could equally well be 28 September, 1 October - anytime.  Sadly something seems to be lost when a tradition is not considered to be important any more but for now Michaelmas Day and Lady Day are still in line with Midsummer Day and Christmas Day as the four quarter days of the year.

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