Happy new year to everyone. What joys has 2018 got in store for us? The weather, Brexit negotiators and animals are all unpredictable, so there’s bound to be some challenges along the way. We’ll doubtless endeavour to tackle whatever our farming life throws at us. Setting goals for the new year is inspiring, achieving them is not so easy, but it’s fun trying.

How’s your New Year’s resolution coming along? Mine frequently goes astray. It was encouraging to read that research shows it takes 66 days on average, before a new habit becomes automatic. The study found it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days, depending on the person, the behaviour and the circumstances. Knowing my luck it would be the latter. It’s probably a matter of perseverance.

Luck or canny wisdom led me to pick exactly the right number of game legs shot. I thoroughly enjoy my days spent working Tilley (our springer spaniel). It’s a pleasure witnessing her instinctive skills in action. Before the start of the shoot everyone donates a pound and guesses a number. At the end of the day, there’s a ritual count of the legs. I was thrilled to scoop those pound coins! My other half suggested I buy a lottery ticket but at slightly different odds I was dubious about my chances.

I didn’t feel so lucky, when returning home wet and bedraggled, just as the temperatures plunged, I walked into a unusually cold kitchen. On questioning, the menfolk they agreed the Aga wasn’t functioning well at morning coffee break. On Thursday 16.00 hrs I phoned the engineers that installed the stove 24 years ago, and who regularly service it. The earliest they could come out was Tuesday afternoon, but they wouldn’t make that commitment until I had paid £75 over the phone.

Fuming is an understatement, but I needed a working stove and hot water, so I swallowed my pride and dubbed up. Farmers should take a leaf out of these scoundrel’s book, clearly we’re missing a trick. Maybe I should ask my lamb buying customers if they would like to pay money up front? that is before I put my rams in! I can picture the look on their faces and the rhetoric wouldn’t be printable.

It was a mistake to mention drought last month, now it’s getting so wet under foot. Shrek (ATV) waited until I was furthest distance from home and then decided to play up. Something to do with water in the radiator not circulating, I limped it home, alternating between pouring water into the radiator and getting soaked when it spewed back over me. As Shrek’s now out of action, it’s back to leg power. My Fitbit is going mental with celebrations, as the number of paces I’m walking is breaking all records. Personally I’m not so ecstatic about this exercise.

There’s always one isn’t there? The other day we split some ewes off, to take to an outlaying field and one lunatic mule broke away from the rest of the group. She went speeding down the lane in the opposite direction. I followed in the car until she climbed a steep bank, I parked and then asked ‘what are you doing?’ She took one look and threw herself at the stock netting fence topped with barbed wire. Before I could reach her, she was in the field running full pelt. I followed and five fields later she managed to reunite herself with the original flock. I wonder if she can swim as well as she jumps! Maybe not Pevensey marshes for her.

I went back to my car, and the press button, fob gadget, wouldn’t open the door. When I did break in, it refused to start. It flashed up, ‘no keys in the car’. I had the key in my hand, shaking it inches from the dash board. I threatened trips to the opticians, added a few choice words, and slammed some doors. Much to my delight it started. I drove home and pushed the button to stop the engine, ‘no key’ sign showed up again, the engine kept running. I had to stall it and eventually it shut down. We’ve now renewed the key batteries and its fully functional again. New technology is wonderful when it works.

Today the family have been making a wish and stirring the cake mixture. I’m multitasking, writing and baking Christmas cake. Ten days before Christmas, both are top priority. I’ve vaguely followed Mary Berry’s recipe, with a few alterations according to availability from my cupboard. The fruit has already soaked in alcohol for seven days instead of three. The cake is now cooked, cooling on the rack, filling the kitchen with inspiring aromas. I’ll have to skip step five of the instructions, where it says ‘allow to mature for three months’. No chance of that! Have you watched Mary Berry’s country houses series on TV? It’s really interesting.

I’ve also seen some shockingly biased news reporting and video clips posted on various websites regarding clashes between hunt supporters and anti-hunt campaigners. There are two sides to every story, and I don’t condone violence. People should respect each other’s opinions. It’s totally wrong to intimidate and force your views on others. Why do these people wear masks? If they truly believe in their cause, they should at least have the guts to show their faces.

We learnt that Vegans are campaigning outside our local abattoir when Nigel phoned to book in an animal. He is keen to sell our lamb and his Sussex beef via a box scheme. Local abattoirs are a vital link for farmers. I feel that the Vegans’ time could be better spent by volunteering to help at a hospice, rather than disrupting rural businesses.