Flindt on Friday: I love farming, but is it really a passion?

Six weeks sitting in my £200 leather reclining chair from eBay feasting on 24-hours-a-day television has left me older and wiser. It’s amazing, the stuff I’ve learned – often at 2am, while waiting for the painkillers to kick in.

For instance, did you know that every other suitcase arriving at Australian border control from south-east Asia is full of raw, bleeding meat?

And did you know that there are officially more comedy quiz shows than there are approved comedians? And that it is illegal for the Question Time panel to reflect the Brexit views of the nation?

See also: Read more of Charlie Flindt’s columns

There was one truth that became apparent as my eyes got squarer and squarer during my convalescence – the chance of our farm being the subject of an hour-long special presented by the impossibly wholesome Kate Humble are zero.

There are three reasons for this. First, my face is not camera friendly at the best of times; put it next to the heart-achingly photogenic Ms Humble, and it would look even worse.

Niche or nothing

The second reason is that my farming is terribly dull. The non-farming TV viewer must think that every farmer is dedicating his acres to reviving a rare breed from the seventeenth century, and only using feed harvested by village virgins using the light of the second full moon of any month in a leap year. It’s niche or nothing.

Here at Manor Farm we stick with what works. When it comes to livestock, Hazel’s motto is: “They’re not called rare breeds for nothing.” On the arable side, we grow what the farm has always grown.

If William Cobbett were to ride through again, he’d recognise all the crops – with the sole exception of oilseed rape.

In that respect we’re like the vast majority of British farmers: we get on with producing a selection of mundane arable crops with varying but reasonably consistent degrees of success year after year. Hardly the scenario to justify the arrival of a film crew.

The third reason is a bit more complicated. I can’t bring myself – no matter how hard I try – to use the word “passion” when it comes to my farming.

Put someone from the Countryfile-approved farming world in front of a camera, and their eyes glaze over and the “passion” starts flying.

You would never believe how passionately passionate they are about their passion for showing just how much passion they have for farming with as much passion as they can passionately muster.

You see the word creeping into job adverts – “Do you have a passion for quick-fit metric hydraulic connections?” – and invitations to apply for tenancies, especially those offered by well-known land-owning charities.

Do I worry that I can’t proclaim my farming “passion” to anyone who will listen? Not really. I find it slightly creepy, slightly “Stepford Farmer”.

My ideal farming gathering involves a good moan, vast dollop of cynicism and a complete lack of bespoke embroidered gilets.

Ostentatious “passion”

“I hate pet lambs,” growls Hazel after another bruising session in the barn. The language I use after installing the de-awning plates in the NH TC5080 combine or unblocking the Horsch seed pipe can be fruity and medieval. But we both love what we do.

It’s just that we don’t have “passion” ostentatiously (if metaphorically) tattooed on our foreheads for all to see. So if the cameras do arrive at Manor Farm, the final result would be terribly dull, despite Ms Humble’s best efforts.

The agricultural adventures of two cynical fifty-something farmers would hardly be Bafta material. Mind you, it would be perfect for the 2am insomniacs, waiting for the soothing touch of paracetamol.