MARCH 2016

The pattern of weather we have been experiencing all winter of a week’s dry weather followed by a wet day or night seems to continuing into March at the moment with some occasional very cold winds too.  We managed one day with the fertilizer spreader putting Ammonium Sulphate on the Rape but all other spreading, spraying and drilling is waiting for the first day of spring to arrive.  Does anyone else get the feeling, on going out in the morning, that winter has finally left us and new growth is beginning?  It can occur at any time between the last week in February and the last week in March but I wouldn’t be surprised if the change will be with us within the next week.  We will wake up to a bright morning with a bit of warmth in the sun and a gentle drying breeze which actually feels warm rather than icy.  Birdsong will be more evident and one can almost hear plants start to grow.  The sooner the better for me – I have had enough mud and cold winds for a while!

We have spent quite a bit of time getting machines serviced over the last two months.  With a fresh mid-range tractor and the new drill to familiarise ourselves with there has been a bit of experimentation and head scratching going on.  Jason has been checking lights and brakes  on all the trailers as we often find ourselves doing some  rushed repair just before harvest.  Needless to say there have been a few electrical connections which fail to energise and hydraulic couplings which fail to squirt oil when required.  No matter how large a box of hydraulic components we keep there always seems to be one vital one which is missing when we need it.  Hopefully by the time you read this we will have been able to try out our new Claydon direct drill. The chosen field is right beside the Cart Track so any glitches will be painfully obvious to all who pass by.

Last year we were becoming more and more frustrated by the week as the Rural Payments Agency failed to get its computer system to deal with the new Basic Farm Payments.  In the end they gave up and produced paper forms for everyone to use.  This obviously created a huge amount of extra work for staff which is still going on.  They still have 30% of farms to deal with some 3 months after the payments should have been made with ourselves as one of them. The word on the grapevine is that the more complicated ones may not be resolved until May or June.  Ours is fairly straight forward so hopefully the bank account will soon be looking a bit more cheerful.  I am quite sure that eventually we will have a good system which works well and is efficient to administer.  Hopefully the Brussels beaurocrats will leave it alone for a decent length of time.  One can always be hopeful, can’t one?