Last week marked the deadline for paying the tax due on the profits earned in the farming year 2022.

I had tried not to think about the problem as we cope with the difficulties of this present season, but ultimately, the bill had to be paid and the door closed on the remarkable farming year of 2022.

It was a year, from a selfish point of view, when yield, price and weather all combined to produce, in cash terms, the best harvest I can remember.

Part of the good was undone by some of the higher costs, especially of fertiliser, but when the final tax returns were done, the cash paid over reflected the profitability of the year.

We cut down on the preliminary tax paid in anticipation of a much-reduced performance for this current year.

At the moment, we are flying blind, with a dramatic reduction in harvest receipts from the 2023 harvest and, depending on a reasonable spring 2024, to get the gluten-free oats and the beans sown in good conditions and early enough to avoid a delayed harvest, as we had with the beans in the autumn just gone by.

In addition to the two crops that are earmarked for spring sowing, I am still uneasy about the extreme variability in both the oilseed rape crops.

As I mentioned, I have sown both a Clearfield variety and a conventional one on the basis that the Clearfield rape was the only disappointing crop in yield terms of the 2023 harvest and we wanted to try again a conventional hybrid variety to test if our fears of serious weed infestation were actually warranted.

I have been told that oilseed rape is a resilient crop as long as the basic plants are there. That theory of its resilience is going to be fully tested with this crop. If necessary, we will be prepared to plough up and replant with spring rape, but we will give what’s in the ground every chance before going to that extra expense.

On the cattle side, we now have the most forward cattle in for a month. While they look to be doing well, we have done no weighing as yet, but I would hope that by Christmas we would begin to have the first of them ready for the factory.

Meanwhile, with the early winter, we are making inroads into the silage and the barley I sent over to a neighbour for drying, storing and rolling. This year we made no hay, but are using last year’s to stretch out this year’s silage – a strategy which can only last so long.