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Farmer John’s April 2013 Blog

Farmer John’s April 2013 Blog

1 Apr 2013

Some years ago I heard a minister talking about St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Chapter 2.

Paul says that when the going gets difficult in life you should look at the lifestyle of others to find good role models. He gives three examples. What does the soldier do? He doesn’t get mixed up in civilian life. That’s obvious to anyone serving in Afghanistan. What do athletes do? They train hard, obey the rules and concentrate on winning the prize, and how thrilling that was for the medallists, and us watching the Olympics, last summer. He then says you should be like a farmer. Paul’s clear message was that we show the quality of perseverance, the ability to keep on keeping on, and making sure that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

For the last 12 months now farming has been very difficult. When we started silage making last June, I asked Robin Plank to cut the water meadows in Bradfield. He phoned me halfway round the first time complaining he’d jumped off his tractor and got 2 Wellington boots full of water. Was it time to stop? Harvest was interesting, with lots of weeds and not so much corn. The last field of winter oats we planted in the autumn looked far more like a paddy field, and failed completely.

There was hope for the spring but 5 weeks of freezing conditions during lambing turned the landscape into tundra and my brain into a desert. It is at such times that perseverance begins to fail and my birthplace of Leytonstone becomes obvious. I therefore sought the assurance of real farmers. Andy More from Beenham stood with me like a father and said ‘It’s alright’, John Miller at Padworth reminded me of the incredibly wet summer of 1967 and also the winter of 1963. I do remember the snow on the ground for 3 months mainly because I got caned for swimming in a frozen pond while trying to relieve the boredom of cross country running in late March. But it was Richard Plank who demonstrated that real quality. Standing in –it and surrounded by cows, his unshaven face beamed “I‘ve just bought 12 heifers” as he looked across his waterlogged paddocks going down to the Pang in Stanford Dingley one sexagenarian confided to another “Ah there’ll be some grass there soon, boy”.