Farmer Focus Arable: Neil Thomson’s farmer beer tasting trip ends with terrible hangover

Irrigation and irritation are two words that go hand in hand. No sooner have you solved one irksome problem then another comes along, and you find that hours have passed without any real progress. However, when you get it running properly it is surprisingly satisfying.

I am sure readers with irrigation equipment will recognise this scenario. I am no different since the last month has been spent slaking the thirst of the broccoli and cauliflower. I just have two machines and one pump so I can only wonder at the patience of my potato-producing friends who have up to nine.

I was among a group of local farmers invited by our local maltings and a well-known London brewery to dinner and “sample” 10 of their finest beers. I like how they build meaningful relationships with the farmers who supply their raw material. They will reap benefits with all of us in the supply chain. I had a throbbing headache the next morning, the first day of the Border Union Agricultural Show. The end of which, 31 July, marks the start of the “phoney” harvest in this part of the world.

We hear of great swathes of the English farmland being combined, yet we are in that lull where the winter barley is done but nothing else is quite ready. My twitchy combining partners were anxious to get into the rape but the stalks are still green, despite being sprayed for three weeks.

I wouldn’t strike a match in the neighbour’s farmyard just now. A recent delivery of gas for the forthcoming harvest escaped through a cracked underground pipe. He has been told that the gas could still be lurking in the drains or even under the concrete. It will be a tense moment when the drier is lit for the first time this year.

• Read more from Neil Thomson here.

• See more from Arable Farmer Focus.

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