Like many farmers’ sons and daughters, I’ve helped my dad on the farm since I was able to walk. I’ve enjoyed it. On the whole. But certain patterns have emerged. Recognise any of these?
1. Minimum wage? You must be joking – your dad thought you were helping him out of kindness.
2. There’s a law against shouting and swearing at staff. But you’re not on the books and you don’t get paid, so you don’t count.
3. Paid holiday? Your cash-strapped dad can’t afford that. Anyway, your holiday is looking after the farm for a week while the folks go away.
4. The relief milker can’t work Saturday, so you’re doing it instead. Even if it is your sister’s wedding. Or the Rugby World Cup final.
5. You get the blame for EVERYTHING… “Why didn’t you tell me the tractor door was open before I drove into the shed?!”
6. Sick? You’re far too busy for that – fresh air will sort it. You have sheep to drench and calves to dehorn…
7. For your birthday, your dad decides to “treat” you to something “practical” such as a new sheep turnover crate. Well, the old one was getting a bit rusty.
8. You’ll never progress from farm apprentice. You still get all the “best” jobs such as stone-picking and dagging dirty ewes. You won’t be able to get a foot on the combine, but the dusty job of blowing it down will be yours – all yours.
9. You’ll most definitely never be trusted with the cheque book. “How much did you pay for that ram? That’s the last time you’re going to market on your own!”
10. And when you so much as mention the words “succession plan”, your dad goes into meltdown mode. “What’s one of them? I didn’t take over the helm until your grandpa died and, anyway, what am I going to do about a pension?”
On the positive side, you can’t get sacked. Although my dad might change his mind after reading this! Hope not, it’s alright, really…