Farmer Focus: Jim Alston’s sowing attempts trigger sympathy for battling French

In recent evenings that were too cold or too wet to get very excited about doing much other than sit in a comfy chair and read a book, I’ve been doing just that.


The first was about the Battle of Agincourt and how we English beat the French with a few arrows and the help of a ploughed field. The poor old Frenchies got bogged down in a rather muddy, freshly-ploughed field, and for once I have some sympathy with them.


We have been battling for ever to get the wheat in and, having never drilled a crop in December before, I found myself drilling in January.


The variety, Einstein, is named after a scientist who said energy could neither be created nor destroyed. I think that if he had grown up with a more agrarian background, he might have added: “But it can be misplaced.”


A little-known fact is that Einstein lived for a short time in Roughton, just three miles from here, between fleeing the Nazis in Germany and arriving in America to teach.


I think we’re going to need all the Einsteins we can find if vegetable production is to survive in this country, thanks to the recent European decision on agrochemicals.


Unfortunately, for every Einstein, there are 100 Georgina Downses standing in the garden watching the sprayer.


The Maris Otter is looking well on the whole, but suffering from rabbit grazing in places. Perhaps if the sea eagles that Natural England plans to reintroduce to Norfolk and Suffolk could be trained to terrorise rabbits and not lambs, we would have a win-win situation.


The other book I read was all about black swans, which are random and unpredictable events. But I won’t dwell on that too much because Natural England will probably start reintroducing them.