Farmer Focus: Year of mixed fortunes for Richard Cobbald

This is my last contribution for 2008, in many ways a mixed bag of a year.

We had very good yields and most of the produce was sold forward for good prices – more by luck than judgement. But harvest, which started so promisingly, became the longest struggle I have ever had to manage.

We’re still suffering the consequences, trying to dry wheat to meet to contract dates and just about keeping my cash-flow on track.

Autumn drilling went well in this neck of the woods and rape is doing a wonderful job feeding those poor pigeons, whose population seems to have grown even more. It should make for a winter of loud bangs and bring lots of calls from local people about the row. Still, it adds to the amusement through the short winter days.

Our current predicament is trying to plough in the last 30 acres of winter beans on heavy land that was destined to be mole-drained. Due to weather and tractor problems this wasn’t achieved and, boy, are we regretting it. The land drains are running continually, so we’ve had to resort to 300+hp on five furrows to get them in – not the perfect start to reintroducing beans into our rotation.

But I shouldn’t be whingeing. On a trip to Edinburgh last weekend I witnessed some of the carnage the weather has caused up north.

We’ve had it easy compared to those boys and I take my hat off to them. I’m not sure I would have the resilience to soldier on in such circumstances.

But at least the Scots have a side that got within 40 points of the Springboks, which should bring a few smiles to Celtic faces.

Have a great end to 2008, and let’s hope things pick up a bit for 2009.

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