Farmer Focus : Matthew Dale 14/01/05

FUNNY TIME of year, January. Crops are in the ground and sitting tight for the winter and the fields are too wet to travel on – especially if you read the new cross-compliance regulations.

That leaves our tractors shed-bound, and although our new John Deere 6420S is ready for collection from the dealer I am happy to leave it there. I would like some fieldwork for it to do before I have to shell out too much.

Up to Christmas we were quite busy shifting grain but I have not moved any more since. I want some idea of where the prices are going before I commit anymore.

Straw is the one commodity that I am loading out from sheds. Two years ago you could not give the stuff away but this winter we are selling the stored bales at a decent price – some good does come of a wet harvest.

Winter might be mild in Cornwall but I was ice-skating over Christmas. The Eden Project erects a rink for the winter months and we went as a big family group.

As you might expect I moved around the ice with all the grace of a cow handling a musket but I stayed upright and my only bruises were from the ill-fitting boots. It was really strange to skate in a chilly ice-rink, then walk straight into the lush, steaming rainforest in the tropical biome, all on a dank grey winter’s day.

A final note for the record: I passed my FACTS course. That was a relief, not least because my brother did so the year before and he would never let me forget it if I had failed.

Mind you, you wouldn’t have heard about it in this column if I had not passed.