At the start of the new year, we should be looking forward to all things bright and beautiful, but as I look out on my flooded paddocks, it is difficult not to feel slightly dejected.

A successful businessman once told me there are three Fs in life - family, firm, fun.

He said to succeed they must be kept in that order. Get them the wrong way round, things will go wrong.

My three Fs are slightly different - family, farm and feeding the nation.

Incessant heavy rain

At the moment, incessant heavy rain is causing at least one third of my paddocks to be constantly under water. So the likelihood of turning out cows in five weeks' time seems very remote.

Looking forward, we are going to see massive fluctuations with floods followed by droughts and we will have to change our farming practices to cope with such conditions.

A few months ago, many passengers were stranded at Heathrow Airport due to high winds, meaning planes could not fly. They were seriously disgruntled.

I’m sure many of them were pointing accusing fingers at agriculture and, in particular, the dairy cow and its flatulence, which they believe is the major cause.

They do not need a sunshine holiday to survive

The first thing is we have to convince them that it’s not the flatulence, but belching, and we are already taking measures with breeding and feeding to reduce this.

We next have to convince them that they do not need a sunshine holiday to survive, but they will need food and with the current climate changes, food will become the new currency.

Wet feet

Last autumn, 10% of the maize was not harvested. Possibly 70% of the wheat crop was planted and for the first two months it looked superb, but this has now suffered up to 25% failure due to wet feet.

As failure is sporadic and not in one part of the field, it will be very difficult and costly to rejuvenate.

I should be turning out cows for grazing in a few weeks' time, but with one third of the paddocks underwater, this would appear unlikely.

We have a prestigious amount of silage in the store, but, using the old adage, "if nature sends it, you need it", possibly the next grazing season is going to be very difficult.


As a nation, we can no longer turn our backs on the changes that farming has to live with. When they suggested temperature rises on average of 1.5C, that’s doesn't sound a lot, but no one pointed out the extremes would be very hot spells, causing drought and prolonged rain causing mass flooding.

Farming will adapt, but food security will become important. A hungry nation is an angry nation.

On a personal note, we took the family skating over Christmas. I was sailing round the ice rink, wondering how many 75-year-olds were still doing this, delighted to be able to teach my seven-year-old grandson to skate properly.

This resulted in a game of tag which caused me to do the splits, thus ending my skating career. I am now off games, but was delighted when the younger members of the family stepped forward to do all my jobs, but quickly came to realise I was now probably obsolete.