20-year-old Michael Neaverson is heading into his third year as an undergraduate Crop Science student at the University of Nottingham. Michael is from a farming family in South Lincolnshire and is involved in all aspects of the 600-acre business – wheat, barley, sugar beet, cress seed and marrowfats.
You know you’re back at college or university when you get home to find that your friends have put a load of your wet washing in the freezer for the afternoon. I’d like to say that I’m always the innocent party in practical jokes like this, but frankly I’d be lying because retaliation will be just around the corner. They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, and given that I will probably be filling up my flat mate’s wellies with ice cubes, I couldn’t agree more.
Having to microwave a t-shirt aside, I’m pleased to report that the past few weeks have been ridiculously busy. As the Students’ Union Chairman at Sutton Bonington, I have to return a couple of weeks earlier than everyone else to make some sort of attempt at organising freshers’ week. With an annual intake of around 450 first years, the start of term is inevitably one of the busiest periods of the year and this year there were some very big social events scheduled on campus. As one of the nights was themed ‘The Only Way is Essex’, I bought some quality Poundland fake tan in an attempt to make myself look like a cross between an Oompa-loompa and a chintzy version of David Dickinson.
The Freshers’ Fair is another huge event with around fifty clubs and societies representing themselves. For those new to university, joining an organisation with a common interest is a great way to make new friends. Consequently, I’m mulling over whether to join the bellydancing, reggae or quidditch societies. And yes, they do all exist, though I assume that they don’t have joint socials.
After the long summer away, I returned back to my flat to find that my landlords have made some changes. They’ve replaced our shower curtain with one that’s about half an inch too short. Despite our best efforts, this inevitably results in puddles in the bathroom that are nearly deep enough to swim in. There was also a sign saying that they’d redecorated in there, though I don’t think this can be the case unless they’ve made a very conscious effort to paint around the mould patches on the ceiling.
Entering my final year seems a scary prospect as the first two seem to have flown by so quickly. This semester we are all doing four modules ranging from Cereal Agronomy to Rural Business Management, in addition to the final year research project. Combining SU work and studying for your finals is not a decision to be taken lightly, and I know that time will certainly be of a premium.
Back at home, cultivations and drilling have been moving at an amazing rate in my absence, with all of the barley and most of the wheat already in the ground. The weather for land work in August and September has been very kind to us in my part of the world, and being so far ahead of normal is a rare privilege. Around half of our sugar beet has just been lifted, though I can’t comment on yield or quality as none of it has yet made its way to Wissington.
Back at Sutton Bonington, we’re approaching the period in which most people in my year turn 21 and a big clan of us headed down to Dorset for Peter and Henry Cox’s joint party for the weekend. It was a really good night, made even funnier by the lump of sheep poo that ended up stuck to my girlfriend’s sleeping bag. I’d like to point out now though that the responsible party was my brother who had borrowed my tent for a couple of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, and not my girlfriend who – as far as I’m aware – does not keep any kind of livestock in her sleeping bag.
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