Well here we are now right in the middle of the “harvest from hell,” as one farmer labelled this year’s effort to get the grain in, and today we have had all manner of visits and phone calls, all requiring Jethro’s time and attention.
Jethro is not available, and certainly not got time to speak to anyone unless they can drive a tractor for 4 days or find him the spare part he so desperately needs! He is now on a tractor working from early in the morning until way past dark, when he updates the daily records on the computer, before snatching a bit of sleep and starting over.
DEFRA, in their infinite wisdom and showing their usual full understanding of the agricultural calendar [and the current weather conditions] have organised a customer satisfaction survey of farmers participating in their Environmental Stewardship Schemes which are administered by Natural England. This survey requires a series of questions to be answered about working with Natural England. It can only be done by phone, email is not allowed [so much easier especially for busy farmers], and it must be completed before 15th September.
I have just answered one of these calls on Jethro’s behalf, and explained that owing to circumstances beyond our control:
a) the farmer isn’t here
b) he won’t be in this evening
c)his tractor is so loud the mobile is no good either
d) he hardly sleeps
e) he is unable to think about anything other than machines and fieldwork right now, and that even the family don’t know what is going on [especially not his mother]
The operator was very understanding and explained that all of the above points about the time of year had already been raised with DEFRA, who probably took no notice, as unsurprisingly the closing date remained the same. I have agreed for Jethro to try to ring back if we have a wet day, otherwise they will ring again nearer the deadline. I felt so sorry for the operator as this experience will undoubtedly be repeated with every call they make.
There have also been several calls today by reps, only one of which was helpful and I was able to send him off to look for this elusive spare part for the seed drill [more on this later]. The other callers were from non-farming companies who happen to sell things used for property maintenance and other such tasks. I don’t think it had occurred to them that they would not be welcomed with open arms by the farmer…
Now before any more interruptions I am off to clean out the hen houses.