At this time of year I find myself hiding from the lambing shed. It’s not that I am not interested, just that I know that my helpful suggestions and valuable comments may not be appreciated.

I dropped by to pick up another load of fertiliser, which I was spreading, but seems as much use as a chocolate fireguard, temperatures having plummeted. Grass growth for the new lambs is almost non-existent.

Winter barley, rape and second wheat have all had their first dressings and we have managed to get about half the spring barley sown.

The weather is making it a slow job and the fact that we have, as the neighbour says, “a paltry 3m” drill, compared with his gleaming new leviathan, doesn’t help.

Throughout the country order books for new machinery are bursting, and there is talk locally of one farmer who will be operating two 40m sprayers this year.

These days people are rightly investing in equipment to make farming as efficient as possible. I’m sure you all consider the sums carefully when looking into these investments – unlike us, it seems.

My father, who gets a bee in his bonnet now and again, tells brother and me what equipment he wants. We tell him we have no need for it, it won’t work, and forget it. Nevertheless, a few weeks later a bill for the said machine drops through the letterbox.

Puzzled, I phone the supplier to protest that we have been billed for something we didn’t order. “But, sir,” comes the reply, “we delivered it last week.”

Not having seen it I enquire: “Where?”

“To your neighbour!”

Dumfounded, I ask: “Why?”

“It was something about a surprise, and you’re not to see it yet.”

A surprise would have been a Ferrari.

For sale: One new yard scraper.