BY JIM WEBSTER Our broadband is less than sparkling. We have a maximum speed of 4 mbps because our farm in remote Cumbria is at the end of a long piece of copper. This copper is not getting any younger. For much of the last year we have been working with the BT Escalation team because they seem to be the only ones with the … Continue reading A Farmer’s Rural Broadband Nightmare
BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN The magnificence of this country is that one never knows what pot of joy or genius one might find down a country lane or hidden away in some random-looking terrace. I suppose that those less appreciative of laissez-faire society would argue the flip side; that British tolerance and enduring liberties facilitate the opposite too. To be fair, ammo dumps are seldom but … Continue reading Webster
BY JIM WEBSTER It’s interesting that both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have spoken out against covering farmland with solar panels. You do wonder if finally, people are beginning to wake up a little. Personally I think that, whether he intended to or not, Putin has created a watershed in history, but not perhaps in the way he intended. If we go back to the … Continue reading How Many Solar Panels Can You Eat?
BY CAPTAIN ED SWALES Every rural and hunting Cumbrian certainly does. It’s part of their rural heritage. The famous early 19th century farmer and fell huntsman of the Lake District, lay undisturbed in St Kentigern’s Churchyard in Caldbeck from 1854 until one grim night in 1977, when his grave was desecrated and his remains disinterred by Mike Huskisson, an operative of the League Against Cruel … Continue reading D’ye ken John Peel?
BY JIM WEBSTER During first lockdown, behind the scenes, major retailers performed logistical miracles. As a farmer I’m not somebody who is prone to praise them, but in spite of ridiculous levels of panic buying (there are people out there who won’t need to buy toilet paper for another couple of years) the retailers managed to keep the show on the road. During lockdown I … Continue reading Too Little Wheat, Too Much Makeup
BY JIM WEBSTER On the agricultural front, so far nothing has really been said in the West, although I’ve noticed a couple of the papers starting to run stories about possible food shortages. Apparently the Chinese government, which seems to think about these things rather more than our governments do, has stockpiled 70% of world maize stocks, 51% of world wheat stocks and “enormous quantities … Continue reading Ukraine Effects: A Farmer’s Thoughts
BY JIM WEBSTER Now we live at the actual point within our postcode area that the postcode refers to. This can happen with you in a rural area. Rural postcodes here in the UK can be quite big. So from any given point in the post code you cannot see all the houses in it. But in our case, the point your satnav will bring … Continue reading The Rural Delivery Nightmare
BY JIM WEBSTER You load sixteen tons, what do you get Another day older and deeper in debt Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go I owe my soul to the company store It’s a funny old world. You really have to be careful what you read. As it was I picked up a book on the Dark Ages and medieval agriculture … Continue reading Whose Serfdom?
BY JIM WEBSTER The thing about farming and agriculture is that it isn’t just an industry, it isn’t just a way of life, it’s a world. All sorts of people come into this world and they might pass through, going about their lawful occasions. They might enter it and flee gibbering unable to cope with the proclivities of the natives. Some will arrive, breathe deeply … Continue reading Going Native
BY JIM WEBSTER I went down to London the other day. First time for a couple of years, so I was quite intrigued to see what things were like down there. On the train and at the stations, masks were optional. Pretty much the same proportion of people were wearing them as wear them round here. Once in the big city it did feel quiet. … Continue reading What Shall the Future Bring Us?
BY JIM WEBSTER I kept a few pigs before the last foot and mouth outbreak. I used to buy a weaned litter or two and fatten them on a mix of spare milk and some 16% protein dairy feed. This is grossly inefficient but was quite profitable because I was having them killed at a local abattoir. Then they were cut up for me by … Continue reading Pigs & Boars
BY JIM WEBSTER It’s a lot of years ago now. My father and I went on this farm walk organised by the Country Landowners Association. In some parts of England and Wales, the CLA seems to have a preponderance of major estates and landowners, and in other parts of England and Wales most of its members are small farmers. I think I was about sixteen … Continue reading Farmers Farm
BY JIM WEBSTER The problem with being rural is that government and a major part of the population aren’t rural and in some cases haven’t got a clue what is going on. To put this in perspective somebody mentioned to me four issues those in authority hold against rural dwellers. They feel that these things are standing in the way of us reaching net zero. … Continue reading Farming & Government Net Zero
BY JIM WEBSTER There are times you have to ask where all the grown-ups have gone to. I won’t say that the lunatics are running the asylum but there are a lot of people setting out the rules who obviously haven’t a clue how the world works. I know a chap who is going into hospital for an operation. He has to self-isolate first. For … Continue reading Townhouse Desk Rules
BY JIM WEBSTER I’ve just been checking a batch of dry cows. They’re enjoying a well-earned rest in late pregnancy, slouching about in the sun, eating the grass and generally not doing a lot. But as I walked to see them, I caught a glimpse of something black out of the corner of my eye. Think ‘bin bag’ black if you would. So after checking … Continue reading Haley’s Balloons
BY JIM WEBSTER I escaped and went for a walk last weekend. I just made my way along the various back paths to a village about eight miles away. It was a glorious day, the sun shone, and everything looked green and well cared for. The village has a coffee morning come jumble sale so I dropped in. After eight miles I felt I merited … Continue reading Stirks & Sunshine
BY JIM WEBSTER The BBC has been at it again, telling the world that government is paying farmers large sums of money to retire. OK so where to start? Let’s start with the money. The EU had a system of farm support. Because it was an EU scheme it was obviously worthy (at least to the metropolitan BBC crowd) and was supported by all right … Continue reading BBC Wrong Again on Farming
BY JIM WEBSTER Spend much time in farming and you’ll end up dealing with agricultural engineers. There is only so much you can fix with baler twine. In my time I’ve seen steel bars ‘reinforced’ by having heavy pieces of timber strapped to them using string. I’ve seen somebody get a tractor home, steering with the independent brake because the steering wheel no longer turned … Continue reading Just Fix This
BY JIM WEBSTER I remember an old farmer commenting about lads ‘helping out.’ “One boy is one boy. Two boys is half a boy, three boys is no boy at all.” I know of a couple of farms round here that used to get a lot of lads ‘helping out.’ With village farms where the village was a community, not a dormitory suburb, it was … Continue reading Lads
BY JIM WEBSTER On the twelfth of February a friend of mine posted a quite spectacular photo of a fire on Dartmoor: This is an accident waiting to happen. Winter wildfires are not unusual. At the same time firefighters were tackling a fire near the Cogra Moss reservoir, in West Cumbria (hence the photo from one of our local papers.) In Scotland, the Scottish … Continue reading Winter Wildfires