Recent reports of a new badger vaccine, developed to stop them passing TB on to cattle, may seem, at first glance, to be an answer to dairy farmers’ prayers. However I am not quite so sure.

If indeed it really does work on badgers, who is going to administer it? Will it still rely on contractors, as with the present localised culling policy? One presumes it will require an annual jab but, in that case, there can be no guarantee of 100% cover as there would be if it was a matter of farmers vaccinating their cattle, which can be done with certainty. There will be some light at the end of this tunnel if the vaccine also contains some really effective birth control measures to put a stop to this dominant mammal’s expansion.

Personally I would rather rely on eradicating TB by controlling badgers (not by eradicating them) in similar fashion to how it was done in the middle years of the last century. And then having controlled it, learn the lesson, and keep it, and them, under control. Unfortunately, it’s rather out of the individual farmer’s hands.

We are almost in spring again, surely the best season of the year, so full of promise. Spring work has been started with the slurry pit emptied, the contents broken down by the chain harrows rattling across the meadows up on the high chalk land. Then there is the seasonal task of getting the fencing contractors in to make sure our miles of stock fences are replaced or repaired to withstand wear, tear, deer and various unwanted visitations.

I have used the same firm to do this job now for the thick end of 20 years and, while they are not probably the cheapest I think they are excellent value. It certainly beats the thought of where the animals will break out on those wet windy nights. And lowers the risk of insurance claims.

Their main man, John, is a Kiwi from North Island and he just keeps going in any weather, never appearing to rush but getting round the farm in rapid time.

The only problem I have is in the quality of the treated wooden posts available which simply don’t last like one feels they should. Seeing the amount of plastic being recycled these days it surprises me they have not found a method of reforming it into standard length and sized fence posts, to replace these fast rotting wooden ones. I feel sure they would be strong enough to be driven into the ground and certainly capable of taking insulators, staples or nails. Come on someone, get to it.

On the farm, we are getting ready to welcome a new herdsman this month as our previous man Simon has decided to take a new career route and gave in his notice at Christmas after some two and a half years with us.

This no longer causes quite the trauma it did before the days of LKL. They are a top staff agency which makes the task of filling a vacancy in dairy farming fairly straight forward. We ourselves are very fortunate in having the company’s managing director, George Gordon, as our contact man and George doesn’t let the moss grow under his feet. This happened immediately before Christmas and as soon as the holidays were over he had quickly arranged interviews with selected candidates and we had a new man engaged and all arrangements settled within two days from interview.

Better news too on the milk price front in that the latest calculated figures do show that the average prices, between aligned and non aligned farms, have closed to around one pence per litre. This is welcome indeed seeing that in the first months of 2016 the price gap was, in some cases, something either side of 15ppl. With some further rises predicted shortly one must just hope producers now get some price stability through the spring flush and thereafter into next year.

It was also welcome that we found a home for the three redundant robots and saw them on their way last month. I do wish the new owners happier times than we had with them.

So now, here we are in March – another “radial” TB test due, this one caused by a 2014 outbreak within three kilometers and everything will remain crossed as we await the result. There is no reason we should worry but one simply never knows with these tests. If we pass this one the pressure eases for a while but who knows when the next crisis arises.

A concern among herd owners is the unreliability of the testing methods and indeed – although this is denied by the Animal and Plant Health Agency – the performance of the testers. The whole thing is so inconsistent and comes down to human fallibilities. Even government contractors can have them, I’m sure.

I say this because last year they took three reactor cows from the dairy herd and a heifer from the Home Farm, paid a pittance in compensation, with no option to negotiate and then when the results came back there was no sign of TB in any of the four animals. I don’t think the testing has changed in all the years I have been aware of it, certainly since the early 1950s.There is simply too much at stake, too much cost to the country and so much hardship to the farms and farming families affected.

It’s enough to make one take up fags and/or drink. Or seek to do something different, even perhaps become an expert, a good definition of which is: “An ordinary person a long way from their home.”