SFP arrives for Will Howe

Now I know what Michael Caine must have felt like when the Zulus were circling around the fort that only a handful of British troops were defending.

Vicky and her office staff now fully surround my office and I fear my last stand may resemble General Custer’s at the Battle of Little Bighorn, rather than that at Rorke’s Drift; and my fate will be a draughty portakabin in the yard. What a way to start the New Year.

Fortunately, the RPA has decided to spread a little happiness here this year by paying my SFP nearly on time. My morale dropped when I received one of their standard letters saying payment will be delayed by 21 weeks, possibly longer, while they checked our details. But then within a week the bank called to say the money had hit the euro account and would I like them to transfer it. Yippee.

My main wish for the New Year is to have a normal annual weather pattern; rain, sun and warmth when it is needed. While aiming a gun at some kamikaze pheasants in the west country, my peg partner was telling me of his record wheat yields because of the dry time and rain arriving in sufficient quantities when required.

While I was naturally ecstatic for him, tinged with a little jealousy, the thought of local farmers drilling wheat after sugar beet, with dust rising from behind the drill, raised a few concerns for this season. But nature does seem to have a way of balancing itself out, so here we wait with an ark and sou’wester at the ready for whatever is thrown at us.

May I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Will Howe farms 384ha of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, growing wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans.

Read more from Will and our other Arable Farmer Focus writers.

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