Christmas seems like a distant memory now. The novelty ‘gardeners moisturising hand cream’ is all but used up, there are still a few
chocolates kicking around the cupboard, mainly the nutty ones, and the pairs of big thick winter socks are now no longer pairs. However some folk are still faced with a daily reminder of a Christmas period they would probably much rather forget. It’s hard to believe that some were forced out of their homes during the festive season due to flooding. Some of the coverage since has shown
farmers evacuating entire herds of cattle from their premises to safety. We have approximately a hundred cattle on our farm here, and the thought of having to evacuate them under those circumstances is unbearable. We sometimes bemoan the land in the Chilterns, having to work with stony flint ground with most fields bordered by woodland that can cause no end of problems. However these last couple of months has made us realise that we are not at all unfortunate in our situation.
Closer to home, the wet weather has confined us to ‘indoor jobs’. Top of the list at this time of year is general maintenance, and selling of our wares. The grain store needs to be readied for a bountiful (optimistic!) harvest this summer, so selling existing grain, and cleaning the stores are a significant priority. This also includes maintenance of the cleaning, drying and transport systems in place to process the grain. Problems are much better prevented than solved!
In other news, as we are mentally preparing ourselves for a busy planting season this spring, I read with interest the story of Mark Lynas, and his u-turn around the issue of genetically modified (GM) crops. Mr Lynas spent a lot of time in the mid - 90’s destroying trial plots of GM crops whilst fiercely campaigning with Greenpeace against Monsanto, the chemicals company that were ploughing millions into the development of Genetically modified Organisms (GMO’s) He’s now apologised for his actions, and at a farming conference he made a speech in which he describes GM crops as ‘an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment’. This it is, however, in development terms, it is still early days, and to say GMO’s can pave the way to a world without pesticides and other forms of crop treatments would be rash. The current situation in the UK is that no GM crops are grown commercially, however Europe and Great Britain have been importing GMO‘s for use in animal feed since pre - 2000. Quite how GM crops should be regulated continues to be a matter of intense debate.
A debate that has ended though, is that of the Farmers Weekly Sexiest Farmer 2014 award. Mrs H was ‘shocked’ and ‘dumb-founded’ (said under duress) at how I was not the chosen winner. I suppose a congratulation should go to the winners of the award, who can be seen here. Never mind, maybe I’ll be considered next year. I’ll start by buying some more gardeners moisturising hand cream.