Do you cope easily with the stresses and strains of this awful weather? Can you walk into the house and separate the emotional pressures of your day’s work from whatever free time is available on your farm?

I definitely can’t, and I carry a large heavy bag of meteorological anxiety around on my back all day long and beyond.

One of my farming colleagues is fortunate enough to have an on/off switch, and if he goes out to play, say a round of golf, he has the ability to completely remove all thoughts of his farm from his mind. What a lucky person.

Everyone has their ways of dealing with agricultural headaches; we are all similar and individually different at the same time.

For me, this relentless wet spell (80mm rain two weeks ago, 70mm the past week) reaches its peak stress level during wet nights. If I can hear rain hitting the bedroom windows in the middle of the night, then my imagination slips into overdrive, I become wide awake and I can vividly picture sheep and lambs standing hunched in the wrong parts of my fields.

My father used to say one of his favourite things was listening to the rain hammering on the windows, while tucked up warm and cosy in bed. I am the opposite.

Similar position

On a practical level, I placate myself by chatting to other farmers who are in a similar position with wet fields, not enough grass and a rapidly escalating meal bill (do not, under any circumstances go and talk to someone who is coping admirably – it will only depress you even further). Indeed, a few of us shared WhatsApp pics on one of the especially atrocious mornings to see who could put up the most bleak and forlorn photo. I was thinking of setting up a group chat and calling it FFS (Farmers for Sunshine – why, what else might it stand for?).


When we emerge from this current dilemma, it may be a good time to, once again, remind ourselves of the importance of having a contingency plan.

I had to install one of these years ago, and it is a vital part of a modern-day agribusiness.

When I was young, keen, and enthusiastic, I tried to push things nearer to the limit. When the weather was fine, this made me feel like a very competent farmer, but if we had a prolonged spell of bad weather, then the wheels came off my wagon in a big way.

There are plenty of options and means of achieving this plan. The choices include lowering stocking rates slightly, keeping extra supplies of silage and having spare housing on farm.

Any one of these is a bonus; having all three offers a degree of real comfort.

With no poultry on-farm nowadays, I have the relative luxury of extra housing and I lowered stocking densities a few years ago after yet another kick in the teeth from poor weather.

However, the silage bit was my Achilles heel this year, and I am running just a bit tight on that front. You know you’re a bit short of fodder when you count the available bales three times per day (each time you walk past them actually), just in case there’s a couple you missed last time.

Light of day

Having mentioned the weather demons that come to haunt me in the night, I should equally point out that in the cold light of day, things don’t seem nearly so bad.

I’ve no idea why, but when I’m sloshing my way across fields on the quad to feed batches of ewes with lambs, there’s a sort of weary acceptance that things are a lot less dire than in my nightmares. No lambs have died the previous night and you could even go so far as to say most lambs look remarkably content. Dare I say, thriving?