This is even though she already possesses a perfectly adequate if battered hand me down stick from an older sister that simply requires a new rubber grip.

A tense negotiation started over breakfast about who was going to pay for said stick. Eventually it was agreed that her mother and I would contribute the first £20 while she would make up the balance from her own funds (she runs a free range egg business from 12 laying hens).

My wife and I had assumed that she would be able to acquire a hockey stick of the gaudiest colours imaginable (and therefore of the most fashionable make) if our daughter match funded our £20 contribution to give her a total hockey stick fund of £40.

Sitting on the combine later that day, imagine how surprised I was to learn, when she beckoned me out of the cab for a harvest picnic, that the cheapest stick she had been able to find in our local town “cost £80 while the one I really want cost £186.” Even selling her eggs at a premium £2 per half dozen direct to customers through our pub she had decided there was no way she could afford a hockey stick (which, apparently, would cost her “two months’ egg production”). We quickly agreed with her.

My teatime combine driver relief was now unloading barley into a trailer. I pointed out that we would need an entire tank load of barley from the combine to pay for her stick. I reminded her of the work and expense involved in growing and harvesting that tank load of barley; from the ploughing to the sowing of the seed; from the application of the fertiliser and sprays to the harvesting and drying.

I suggested that egg producers and barley growers were caught in the same plight of rising prices for everything we buy, but static or even falling prices for everything we sell. I even speculated that, when I was her age, a tank load of barley would have bought several hockey sticks and possibly even a lifetime’s supply.

I concluded by declaring that her parents could not justify the exchange of a combine tank load of barley for a hockey stick no matter how “well sprung” or “cool” it was.

Her mother and I exchanged anxious glances. Was my tenuous attempt at making a macro economic farming point from the relative prices of hockey sticks and barley going too far? Was that a tear now forming in the corner of her eye? Our daughter has even expressed an interest in farming as a career and the last thing we want to do is put her off at such a tender age.

Term has now started and the first match is looming. The captain will be sporting an extremely smart new … purple grip on her hand me down stick. Call us hard parents if you must but these are hard times for arable farmers.