Farmer Focus: Muck in with mates to get harvest done

I just got in from a busy harvest day, and I am pleased to report that it has been a pretty good one.

A lovely breeze was drying the standing wheat from early on, so for the first time this season we managed to get cutting just before 10am.

All was well, the yield meter was recording satisfactory readings and we would have had a huge day, had it not been for an annoying breakdown that cost us more than an hour in the middle of the day. But that’s farming!

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

You may remember that we share the combine with one of my best friends Neil. He, I and another pal were the trailer jockeys while my brother Keith was combine pilot.

You couldn’t wish for a better example of mates mucking in to get the job done. The only thing that’s missing in the frenzy of modern farming is a chance to stop for a wee while to have a bit of banter and craic.

But we did get the daily visit from our dad, just to see how we were getting on. Even though he isn’t getting any younger, his enthusiasm and interest in farming and the business is inspiring and a reminder that thanks to him and his guidance (sometimes graciously received, sometimes not), Keith and I are farming here. 

So, although our harvest is not yet complete, I could still summarise it thus: barley: average, oilseed rape: poor, broccoli: average, wheat: good. Therefore overall: average.

Sadly, you will not get to hear exactly how the harvest has finally fared from me this year – this is my very last article as a Farmer Focus writer.

I have now been doing this since 2008 and it has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to be able to write to you so regularly, sharing the ups and downs of farming in this beautiful part of the world.

Thank you to those of you who have been very kind by saying that they have enjoyed my musings. I will slip back into obscurity and say goodbye, good luck and if you see me about, say hello!


Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep.

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