Farmer Focus: Push on or close the chequebook?

Last month I wrote about loads of snow and how the conditions were great for a fantastic skiing holiday.

Little did I know that this month I would be writing about loads of snow. However, this time the conditions have been appalling.

We have all seen the images of the drifts and we have all dealt with the frozen pipes.

I have a few repairs to make as we have managed to melt a few plastic pipes by initially taking the quicker and easier blowtorch option rather than the traditional kettle method. 

As the snow melts – and it has melted quickly – we now have flooding to deal with. Those hit the hardest now have to deal with the deadstock which will be very distressing. 

See also: Photos: Farmers rescue sheep from snow drifts

The egg collection wagon finally managed to get in and collected eight pallets of eggs. 

Our egg buyer, Chippindales, would have been almost as pleased to see the eggs as Claire was to see the delivery of packaging. Running out of packaging for the eggs is not something I ever want to encounter.

With the snow came extra feeding and the silage pits are starting to empty fast. We need to manage the stocks carefully for the rest of the winter and hope for an early spring. 

I am also on with a big push to sell stock due to the lack of forage. 

The wind turbine needs fixing (again). Thank goodness this business isn’t reliant on it, otherwise we would be stuffed. However, I am pleased it doesn’t take as long to get machinery fixed.

The uncertainty for UK agriculture continues with Brexit. The commentary is on the reduction in direct payments and stewardship schemes taking centre stage, but there is little detail on how or how much. 

This business is now in its fiftieth year. From very small beginnings, this year is the first where we are debating whether to push on with growth or close the chequebook.  Instead of the mists clearing, it’s getting decidedly foggier.


Simon Bainbridge farms a 650ha upland organic farm with 160 suckler cows, 1,500 breeding ewes and 12,000 organic laying hens with his wife, Claire, and his parents. Healthy, maternal livestock and quality feed is a priority.