Things You Know If You Work With Farmers

BY ANNA BOWEN

Eight and a half years and counting…!

  • Any paperwork is highly likely to be covered in something that looks suspiciously like… actually not “suspiciously like” … it clearly is cow s**t.
  • Getting in the Land Rover for a farm tour will involve sitting on top of a bag of feed, fitting your feet in between a bucket and a broken chainsaw and having a dog breathe down your neck.
  • There is no point organising a meeting during harvest time. Or lambing. Or calving. Or apple picking.
  • The scariest person you will ever meet is the matriarch. She has two sons who (despite being married) still live with her and rely on her to cook all their meals. She has control over the cheque book, has been known to chase contractors off the farm and won’t relinquish her reign until she finally meets her maker.
  • The weather is always terrible.
  • Farmers always offer food, eat huge portions and want you to do the same. There is no point ever mentioning that you are predominantly office bound and haven’t made it to the gym in six months.
  • Your clients are all related.
  • They all want to pay by cheque but often forget to write down the invoice number so you must look through all 500 Jones/Smith farmers to find a balance matching the cheque.
  • Farmers will buy anything if it means not paying tax that year.
  • Ditto claiming back VAT. Can the personal number plate go through the farm account?
  • Going “to town” (not London) is a big deal. You’ll know because the farmer will come to your office as appointment two on a list of six.
  • The farm dog probably isn’t allowed in the office… but he’ll be in there anyway.
  • There are between-sector, society and family grudges that have been going on for a century and you must be aware of these.
  • You will only be told about the rogue animal in the field after you have walked across it.
  • The best chance to see your clients is at an agricultural show. In the members’ tent.
  • At any discussion group there is always a stubborn old man who disagrees with everyone.
  • Never admit that you ride horses. Even if the farmer themselves has a herd of pedigree mountain ponies or hunts twice a week, they will instantly judge you.
  • Despite the phenomenon of the matriarch (see above) farmers are always certain that a female consultant/advisor is either a secretary, junior to any man, or about to quit work to have babies.
  • They will want to know who your other clients are. Mostly so that they can tell you exactly where those farms are going wrong with their crop rotations.
  • There is always a farm hand who is “a bit slow but a hard worker.”
  • Contrary to popular opinion, its highly likely that your client will be fully computer literate and, instead of listening to your explanation of his profit and loss account, will actually be simultaneously checking Facebook, reading Farmers Weekly online and booking a skiing holiday for the week all his cows are dried off.
  • You’ll never want to work in another industry again.
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