Farmer Focus: Tractor’s clutch will cost us £9,000

The magic of Christmas has thankfully passed. The children are on a sugar detox and life can start getting back to normal.

We had the unpleasant news just before Christmas that the New Holland had blown its clutch.

This is not ideal for a four-year-old tractor with 4,200 hours on it, and it looks like we are going to be £9,000 down. We are due to buy another tractor this summer. 

On the light, chalk land, the sheep have eaten the oats and clover out and have left a wonderful surprise.

The root mass of the cover crop has kept the chalk soil free-draining, and with the sheep eating most of the green material the fields are in excellent condition.  

See also: 13 tips for lambing outdoors

I don’t want to say it out loud, but once the front and back of the tractor are re-connected, we may well be able to start a second round of winter crop drilling, if this dry-ish weather continues.  

It’s an unexpected benefit of mixed farming that sometimes opportunities like this present themselves.

I also have to say a big thank you to our neighbour Trevor who has been lending us tractors so we can carry on with farming while ours is down. It’s an ambition of mine to one day have a bit of kit he actually wants to borrow off us.

Sheep on the whole are looking good. Blood tests and faecal egg counts (FEC) from the lambs show no major problems so the majority of those should start to leave the farm soon.

There are a few thin ewes kicking around, so when we go through and pull the rams we can maybe put those to one side and throw some additional feed at them. 

We had to stop our awesome shepherd James walking sheep down the road from one field to the next. He works in Yorkshire.

He’s now in the South East, where things are different, and wanted to take them across the major London-Cambridge train line and a dual carriageway. I don’t think my stress levels would have taken it.

However, if anyone can manage it, it would have been James.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography