My first couple of weeks back on the farm can be described in one word: busy.
Day one started with cleaning out duck buildings and carting muck. I hadn’t driven a tractor for a while, but after a couple of dodgy reversing manoeuvres, I managed to get the hang of it. Luckily for me, my workmates were happy to offer advice.
They also gave me feedback on my first Farmers Weekly column. “You could have included a photo of a better tractor,” was one of the comments.
When I spotted the magazine where the men have breakfast, I braced myself for some ribbing, but I actually got off quite lightly.
Moving house wasn’t too painful, but we may have underestimated the time it takes to unpack. My daughter, Eve, is always excitable, but once she walked into her new home, she was even more animated than usual, making loud hoots of approval as she inspected her new kingdom.
My wife Alice works at a GP practice in Norwich and, while she’s away, Eve’s grannies step in. My favourite reaction so far was when my mum said she was “too tired to speak” after her first day of childcare.
Work hasn’t all been about tractors and ducks. I had to showcase my IT skills when my dad asked me to sell a digger on eBay. To my surprise, it sold within a few hours and the farm’s first eBay auction was over. I wish everything on the farm were this straightforward.
Property is a big part of our business and we let out several houses – one of which is currently undergoing a big renovation project.
I’ve been helping to thin out trees and clean up rubbish in the garden. I also helped to remove glass from an old greenhouse.
This seemed fine to start off with, but as I removed a pane, I caught my glove. At first I didn’t think much of it, but once blood starting trickling out, I realised I’d done some damage. Luckily for me, our builder, Bernie, had a first aid kit and he patched me up. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad and I was soon back at work, wearing much thicker gloves.
Learning the ropes
February is a relatively quiet time for arable farming, but I’m trying to make the most of it by learning from our agronomist, Simon Pretty. He’s been educating me about oilseed rape and this year’s crop is looking good.
I’m sure I’ll soon be spending a lot of time looking at spreadsheets, but as he says, there’s no substitute to walking the fields and seeing things with your own eyes.
Most things are new to me on the farm, but over the next few months I hope I’ll be able to add some value. Right now, though, I’ve still got a lot to learn and a very long to-do list.