In more recent times, other than the occasional oversized sized teenager riding their undersized mopeds across the corn fields and terrorizing walkers along the footpaths, we rarely see youngsters on the farm.
I am reliably informed that the reason for this age of ‘missing children’ in the countryside, is that they now tend to hang around the town centres smoking and drinking, or are holed up in their bedrooms playing incomprehensible computer games. No wonder so many of today’s youths are unhealthy and bored, many verging on obese or even pregnant. What a pity there is no middle ground where kids can be kids.
I don’t want them back setting fire to things, but it would be good to see them enjoying the countryside, and perhaps understand and respect the work farmers do to provide food for the nation.
However, I am told there is a chink of light coming on the back of a Japanese animated game series called Pokemon. A new craze which is apparently enticing youngsters out of their bedrooms into the fresh air, as they look for mythical hobgoblins on their GPS smart phones!
Dame Helen Ghosh, the head of the National Trust is keen to encourage Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, to redistribute farm support from food production to ‘bees, butterflies and weeds’. It is reported that she believes that farmers are going out of their way to wreck the countryside and the environment by growing food to feed the nation. If that is so, I suspect Dame Helen has not ventured out from her office in Swindon recently. If she had, she would very soon become aware that it is the farming community which is the main custodians of the countryside, wildlife and flora and forna.
Most farmers are heavily committed to improving the natural environment and habitats, and indeed are encouraged to do so through environmental stewardship schemes. However, farmers must not be totally focused on these issues at the expense of food production. We must not find UK in a position where we rely too heavily upon imported food.
Increasingly there are parts of the countryside are being fought over by conservationists, farmers and developers. There was an excellent letter in the Daily Telegraph last week from Mr Peter Iden, which is worthy of sharing. He said, “A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the countryside, a conservationist is someone who already owns one.” Cynical but possibly true.
Wheat prices are creeping up due to a mixture of poor yields, and the fall in the value of the pound. Having bumped along the bottom at around £100/ton since last harvest, it is encouraging to see a rise to around £115, and hopefully it will keep on an upward trajectory.
We shall be combining the winter barley this week, and it looks as though the wheat will not be far behind. I do not expect a bumper crop which is disappointing as we are looking forward to filling our wonderful new grain store. The good news is that we shall no longer need to shovel grain, or spend hours moving it from the floor in the cattle shed to the grain bins, and then in due course to grain Lorries.
This amazing new building, built by GE White & Sons Ltd, will transform our productivity, saving hours logistically, and best of all will no longer take its toll on our backs, joints and lungs, as we no longer have to manually shovel up to 150tons, emptying the grain from the bottom of the bins by hand. What joy!