Farmer Focus: On the fence until there’s carbon clarity

In the past eight years we have fenced the farm twice as the industry races to produce posts.

To understand the problem properly, it’s best to be on a farm shoot, climbing a five-year-old fence and discovering that every post has rotted off at ground level.

Bring back creosote and dried timber, like telegraph poles and railway sleepers that last forever. 

About the author

Charlie Armstrong
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Organic mixed farmer Charlie Armstrong, Alnwick, Northumberland, has grown his business to cover over 1,214ha (3,000 acres). He runs bed and breakfast pigs, dairy beef, suckler cows, 485ha (1,200 acres) of cereals and 6,500 Beulah and Mule ewes.
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I reckon the trees are felled on Monday, reach the sawmill on Tuesday, and are then inoculated with a chemical that assists the decomposition process at ground level.

I would like to “sit on the fence” as this carbon carry-on plays out. However, that fence is knackered too. 

See also: Fencing contractors urged to avoid wooden posts

It seems that every second-hand car salesman is still flogging solar panels. Feed-in tariffs have finished, but they have become carbon experts.

Like football, they are in different leagues, but they haven’t agreed where to put the halfway line or the goal posts. We don’t even know if there’s a referee.

One thing for sure is the clock is ticking – we just need a rule book and a standard ball size from Defra, then we will hopefully be on a level playing field.  

New machinery has been less troublesome. Yellow, green or blue tractors have been easier to handle than the Red Tractor (and by that, I mean inspections), which seems to have got lost and forgotten its purpose.  

Red Tractor question: What shelter do you provide for your sheep? Answer: Wool.

Does every hill, mountain, field or fell now need a shed for shelter, or will a huge Scottish organic thistle do? Where is the sense?

Our vets are great. We used to call them “Herriot in a Hilux” – fantastic team they are. Now we call them “Larry the Laptop”, as they spend far too much time answering irrelevant questions for audits. 

On a positive note, we’ve been proactive on health and safety paperwork. Getting things signed off remains our downfall, but signatures are usually only needed after an accident – preventing an accident is more important.

All our ATVs now have roll bars on them. A large proportion of tractors, ATVs and pickups have been fitted with trackers to assist in sensible driving. The list is long, but our lives should be too.