Farmer Focus: 2019 is the year the shepherds got harvest in

Our first draw of lambs is being pulled together and we are trying to select breeding stock to leave the farm and head to their new homes.

We are about 25% the way through harvest as we write this (12 August).

All the oats are safely in, as is a bit of early spring barley.

We are waiting for a break in the weather to get the peas next, but we can’t complain as we’ve had a lot better weather than many others.

See also: Q&A: Setting up a sheep/arable grazing agreement

Early signs are for good yields.

Our poorest farm did 2t/ha more than expected, which became a big problem when the new auger blew up after about 60t – just like the old one did last year.

I have been sweeping out the straw shed again.

This is very frustrating, especially considering there’s been so much time spent cleaning all the bins out.

Harvest 2019 will be remembered by us as the harvest the shepherds got in.

We are still without a staff member on the arable side so, true to form, Rob had to step up to drive the combine this year.

I must admit, I was more than a little anxious as our combine is one of the larger variety, not exactly a starter model, but thanks to some New Holland experts, some good friends and our local independent fitter, Steve Gearing of GTecs, he has more than risen to the challenge.

On the corn carts we have roped in Ian, our wool roller from the shearing gang, and our Harper placement student, James.

On the one hand it means nobody can argue with me as nobody has done it before here, but, on the other, it means all the decisions for the half million-pound harvest are squarely on my shoulders.

It’s easy for harvest decisions to have a £50,000 effect on the income of the farm.

Our business is so young and highly geared it’s enough to keep you up at night, after night, after night – the pressure’s on at the moment.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography