As we approach Christmas, the place has a superficial air of normality. The hedges are all cut and the grass fields are now all rested, and with all cattle indoors, fields are greening up.

In the sheds, the first of the beef is almost ready, with the Angus dairy cross cattle approaching 23 months. However, while they are getting firmer to handle, I am not optimistic that the carcase weight will be much over 300kg.

Our initial weighing suggests the performance on-grass over the summer was below target – and below what we would normally expect – due, presumably, to the almost continuous rain and poor grazing conditions.

If we average out at a daily gain of 1.5lbs/day over the grazing period, I will be relieved.

That said, as I mentioned, mortality is almost at zero with this new system compared with the 3% to 4% with continental weanlings, and of course, with the dramatic fall in cereal prices, the cost of feeding in the final finishing period has reduced by about 50c/day compared with last year.

We are just about to put the digestate into the slatted houses to make the slurry easier to agitate and hopefully get more nitrate rather than ammonia-based nitrogen spread on the land – though I would like to see this independently scientifically verified, rather than just relying on the distributor’s assurances.

Out in the fields, I have never had such messy looking winter cereals. There are pools of water where I have never seen them before, with bare patches betraying the waterlogged soil underneath.

Some of the lying water is undoubtedly due to compaction and some to overwhelmed drains. At this time of year, on even slightly compacted soils, a lack of percolation is combined with zero transpiration and almost no evaporation, so even though drains have dried up quite well, whatever water is lying on the land just sits there.

If we get a dry spell next summer, there will be some subsoiling to be done, as well as trying to get sowing done earlier to give crops a chance to get established.

This particularly applies to the oilseed rape where the September sowing is just too late in a difficult autumn.

Meanwhile, the second instalment of the BISS payment has come through. I presume the eco, straw incorporation and protein elements are in the pipeline.