Mindset is a buzz word. Apparently “when things go wrong, there’s going to be some good that will come from it.” In other words “No complaining.” Do people not realise that farmers are never happier than when they’re moaning? I’m going to give this theory a try. Right now I’m struggling to set my mind, which is certainly buzzing.

The bleating ewes in the fields surrounding our house aren’t helping. We delayed weaning until the temperatures had eased because the drought conditions were stressful. Also my Achilles tendon debacle removes me from active shepherding duties, so action only happens when my accomplices can fit it in. The lambs aren’t bothered but their mothers are blathering loudly, insisting on traipsing around perimeter fences seeking escape routes. In fact, noisy is good: quiet means they’ve succeeded in breeching the fence.

I’m just wondering what good there was when Nigel managed to just touch our neighbour’s wall with a load of hay. The bricks crashed to the ground, narrowly missing our neighbour who was trying to guide him out. It was good that she wasn’t injured.

“Mr Crack On” wasn’t cracking on quite fast enough for Shrek (our mule) and his dog’s liking. They attempted to run him over while he was walking downhill to open the gate. Their speed was such that they opened the gate themselves and dived over the side of the bridge, dangling tantalisingly over the river. It was good then that the handling system which had added weight to this adventure, wasn’t keen to go swimming and lodged itself on the bridge, consequently acting as a balance.

The perplexed dogs scrambled to safety. The rescue mission included a crane. Looking on the bright side, Shrek still runs and I’m told the absence of a windscreen is very refreshing. Added to this the newly gained personalised features may deter the pesky thieving scumbags that snoop around rural locations.

How fortuitous it was that when our combine burst into flames it wasn’t in a crop of corn. It was travelling the lane between farms, in a location where the mobile signal wasn’t good. I received an irate broken call from my husband while he perched on top of the harvester having disgorged the contents of a fire extinguisher into the flames. He explained he wasn’t sure if the fire brigade were coming because although he’d given his location, road and landmarks, he failed the post code test. He’d requested the Herstmonceux crew and was told it was their day off. He pleaded for my help, but on one leg and unable to drive, I was limited to calling anyone I could think of that lived nearby.

A huge thanks to all those that lent a hand in our hour of need: true Samaritans. My husband was shocked when initially several cars finding their road blocked by a smoking combine simply fled. A nearby resident restored his faith in mankind by supplying extra fire extinguishers and administering first aid when he got debris in his eye.
The fire brigade eventually arrived, carried out a risk assessment, and got kitted out in all the necessary safety gear before tackling the fire which by then had reignited for the third time. As they were packing up to leave, it burst into flames for a fourth time. The battery was then disconnected, the flames when doused finally abated. The dejected combine was towed into an adjoining grass field. With crops needing cutting and customers waiting, I’m hard pressed to think what good comes of this disaster mid harvest. Except to say that we have become much better acquainted with our insurers!

After this excitement we fell into bed at midnight, exhausted. But shockingly when the next day dawned, we were treated to yet more drama. We received a phone call from Anglo Beef Processors’ Guildford abattoir. “We have a problem,” he announced calmly. We had sent 14 finished cattle on the previous day, due for slaughter. Two cattle from our own holding, and 12 who were grazing certified Soil Association organic land four miles away. From that phone call we learnt that if land is not Red Tractor certified, ABP cannot buy your animals. What’s more, If your cattle have entered an abattoir, they cannot leave alive. Where is the good? ‘What options are there?’ I enquired. “We will slaughter your cattle, and send you the bill for doing so, and you can collect the carcasses. Or if you talk to your certifier, there’s a slim chance of creating a link. In which case, once confirmed we will be able to proceed as usual,” he answered.

Are high stress levels good for you? We don’t have a cold store and our fridge isn’t quite big enough. Dealing with one animal split into 20 10 kilogram boxes is challenging enough. But 240 boxes at once – I’m trying to conjure positivity, but I’ve failed. Realistically this was a logistical nightmare. Nigel was willing to salvage what we could, but this might test even his marketing skills. Luckily this situation was averted by the helpfulness of our Red Tractor providers. This was a truly scary scenario, and completely bonkers. Fighting fires is more straightforward than fighting bureaucracy.

Prospective grandma adventures then transported me from the farm to Lewisham Hospital. With temperatures in the thirties, a fortnight overdue, four days of contractions and little progress, I felt justified in demanding my daughter be given access to the labour ward, epidural and monitoring. Once there, the NHS service was fantastic,and my grandson eventually arrived dramatically via an emergency caesarian. Thank you NHS staff. Grandparent status is delightful. George is perfectly adorable. His proud parents revealed that his name is derived from a Greek word meaning farmer. Happy days!