BY JIM WEBSTER I don’t often apologise to the government of the People’s Republic of China but I confess I have been somewhat sceptical about their sincerity when it comes to cutting carbon emissions. But apparently they are trying. The government laid down strict limits on the amount of energy that could be used in various provinces. But when lockdown ended, there were a lot … Continue reading The Law of Unintended Consequences
BY JIM WEBSTER I’ve spent a lot of time with milk cows. Milking them isn’t a cheap hobby. A lot of dairy farms have a business model which resembles a hosepipe. You get in quite a lot of money from the milk cheque but then it moves down the hosepipe at speed, and sprays the money out to your suppliers and the bank. Hopefully enough … Continue reading Milking It
BY JIM WEBSTER Why would anybody be a lorry driver? The pay dropped because companies employed cheap labour from abroad. To an extent that is still happening with delivery drivers. We’ve had a charming Bulgarian man come into our yard looking for somebody else (we’re just the postcode). His only sentence in English was ‘I am from Bulgaria and don’t speak English’. To show us … Continue reading Keep on Trucking?
BY JIM WEBSTER I used to boast at one time that in our dairy herd we had every colour of cow, other than green. Green would be far too difficult to spot when out at grass. (Actually Black and White cows, in the early morning, can be damned difficult to spot when they’re standing against a hedge line. They’re woodland animals wearing woodland camo). But … Continue reading Cowman
BY JIM WEBSTER Well, are food prices going to rise? After all, governments have successfully held prices down for decades. Milk is cheaper in the shops in cash terms than it was back in the 1990s. Is the tide turning? One advantage of living on the side of Morecambe Bay is that you get used to the tides. I once spent some time in Scarborough … Continue reading Food Prices on the Rise?
BY JIM WEBSTER I’ve worked a lot with lorry drivers over the years. Normally we get the good ones, as the other sort don’t make it down the lanes. But at the moment there’s a shortage. Yet I can remember Bob Bojduniak of Farm Brief mentioning to me over twenty years ago that the various agricultural supply companies were telling him then that they struggled … Continue reading The Lorry Driver Shortage
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 Every so often you realise you’ve missed a trick! I was chatting to another church warden and she commented that she cannot wait for somebody to demand her church be decolonised. She’d point out that the parish isn’t worthy and she could gift the church building to those protesting. Then the church itself could meet in the local community centre where it’s … Continue reading Decolonise Your Diet!
BY JIM WEBSTER There is a lot of discussion about food waste. I came across an article with the snappy title, “The UK wastes millions of tonnes of food every year: here’s how we can change that.” The article makes some useful points: “In the case of pig farmers in the UK, this system is causing an industry-wide crisis. UK pig farms are governed by … Continue reading Piggies Off the Market
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 There are more ways of stirring up a slurry pit Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Parking a tractor with a slurry stirrer by the side of the pit suddenly seems so pedestrian. There again, at least with the tractor you’ve less chance of an early bath. The picture below is a still from a video available on Facebook but, … Continue reading Well Stirred Shit
BY JIM WEBSTER Whilst my time in agriculture has been a time of impressive change, I suspect that the industry has been moving so quickly that every generation born since 1900 will be able to say that. I started my life working alongside men who’d been in farm work in the 1920s and 1930s. They were horsemen but I just missed that era. But being … Continue reading Moving to Mechanisation
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 Six days shall you labour and on the seventh rest. Except when I took this photo (featured) it was Sunday morning, and we were pretty much guaranteed showers the day after and heavy rain on the Wednesday. So the reseeding had to be done now. And time off in lieu? That’s not an agricultural term. After they’d finished ploughing, just out of … Continue reading Quiet Heroes
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