As I write, snow is falling and spring is definitely not in the air. Supposedly rested fields look grey, barren and uninviting. Let’s hope things pick up soon.
Liz and I have had a busy and tiring month trying to get through the long list of winter jobs before we disappear into the lambing shed. We have erected fences, laid concrete, hung gates, spread dung and docked and vaccinated sheep. Progress in these tasks has been hindered by the perennial problem of short days at this time of year, with the better part of the morning spent feeding stock and doing yard work.
Looking ahead to 2013 and the end of the current SFP scheme, I naively thought when the European taxpayer is to hand over cash to livestock farmers then it must be to encourage the keeping of efficient, productive animals in a welfare friendly and environmentally sustainable way.
Of course nothing is that simple. The policymaker’s decision will no doubt be heavily influenced by the current fads and buzz words. There is a real danger if a wacky professor can convince them grazing animals have such a heavy carbon footprint and that it is throwing the planet off its axis, we grassland farmers may end up with the rough end of the stick for years, long after the theory behind the policy has been discredited.
As part of their improved service and at a cost of £4.65, the National Fallen Stock Company has sent us our annual compliance statement. There can be few things more depressing than a list of everything that has died in the past 12 months. Perhaps they could spice it up a little; maybe regional league tables with a small prize for producer of the month.