I hope I won’t meet you now for a few weeks or months at least.”

On mature reflection, it probably wasn’t the most sensible way to finish a call with the vet. We were discussing how to treat a high coccidiosis result from a dung sample on Thursday afternoon and once those words were out of my mouth, I knew I had tempted fate.

Then it started. The windscreen wiper flew off the tractor while I was trying to finish cutting hedges behind the wires.

I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I continued while I could as it looked like it would brighten up. It didn’t. The rain got heavier and I nearly got stuck, so the hedge-trimming came to an end until autumn. I found the wiper on the way out, but only after driving over and mangling it.

The wind switched to the north on Friday and a northerly breeze can play havoc with our sheds at calving time, so I spent a bit of time rearranging bales of straw to block any draft.


On Friday evening, a calf was drawing heavily on her stomach, but otherwise appeared alright. I brought her back to the stall for a more controlled environment, but I didn’t feel it was a vet case on its own.

She was bright, stretching, dung and temperature were all okay.

After sorting her, I took one last walk around the yard Friday night and found a cow down. Now there were two reasons to get the vet. We had a laugh about the ending to our previous call as we sorted the patients.

The calf was a puzzler. All seemed right with him as well, but it could have been a congenital issue. That battle was lost as the calf was dead Saturday morning, so I had to drop it off to the knackery. The cow is still down, but alert.

There was a touch of two steps forward, five steps back in trying to catch up with work, until I finally had things under some semblance of control.

There are pros and cons to it, but I find having music or podcasts on the phone are a good help. If nothing else, you’re not alone with your own thoughts in the yard as the small things go wrong.

On their own they’re a thing of nothing, but when the big uncontrollable isn’t going your way either and you’re on your own, that’s when problems occur.

Relentless rain, high input costs, lower prices for your product, delayed payments, fire those in the mix too and small problems can trip you up.


It’s been a good few years now since I was asked to consider running for Macra president.

I gave it a bit of thought, but it was something that would never have suited me. I can’t remember where I read it, but there was one phrase I kept coming back to at the time when making up my mind and I never forgot it.

“Don’t get your ambitions mixed up with your abilities.”

It’s a phrase I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, because it applies to so many of the policies and schemes directed at farmers.

The ambition of ACRES is admirable, but it’s greatest asset to date is it shows just how hard it is to turn dreams into reality.

I acknowledge ambition is needed, but right now I think farmers, advisers and civil servants would all benefit from something simple and deliverable.