Farmer Focus Livestock: Murray Garrett welcomes the cold snap

What a difference a month makes. Four weeks ago our fields were waterlogged, heifers were poaching their paddocks unmercifully, and scraping the yard was proving difficult as the dung heap crept nearer the cattle sheds. So the festive cold snap has been a godsend.

We can now travel almost the entire farm by tractor for the first time since September and our muckspreader has joined most of our neighbours in celebrating this area’s exemption from the NVZ club. My sincere condolences go out to any of you who have become recent members of this one.

On a personal note, I have now been officially “sworn in” as NFU chairman of the Okehampton and Hatherleigh group. Apparently, “although hailing from outside the region”, I have now “experienced enough different types of rain to be considered acclimatised to the area”. Thank you, lads.

I had nearly forgotten this “honour” (and I use the term very loosely) was to be bestowed upon me this year – having been pressganged into the vice-chairmanship in 2008. However, ominously, my own vice-chairman has yet to be selected. How many years before I can apply for parole?

Seriously, though, as things get tougher for livestock producers, it is increasingly difficult to find time for any activities off the farm and NFU meetings are no exception. I would urge all those NFU critics to get involved – it’s your union and it’s the only real voice we have got and it is up to us all to make it effective and representative.

An unexpected Christmas present was our single farm payment cheque – it’s just a shame the amount wasn’t calculated during the current parity between the pound and the euro.

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