The excitement is building in our house as the Advent calendars have been started. The phone call from Father Christmas is imminent and the look of joy on Ted’s face grows every day. The threat of having coal in your stocking means that he jumps to completing mundane jobs round the farm/house. The shortest day of the year is looming and that can only mean one thing: the days will get longer. Yippee.

On a cold, sunny (probably the only one) November day, after many years of ‘living in sin’, Mr Grumpy decided that it was about time that he made me “an honest woman”. So, we went, without telling a soul, (save for our witnesses) to Ramsgate and ‘tied the knot’. 

What an amazing day it was – although there was no rest for the wicked as work/school runs etc followed in the afternoon. The following weeks will have quite a few celebrations going on. According to the children, it was long overdue!

Fergus is basking in temperatures of 32 degrees, while we have been drowning in rain/flooding for a continuous period. He has been gone for around five weeks and is now three quarters of the way through the harvest. The yields have been down this year after several late frosts, but the prices have held well ‘down under’. 

The woman Fergus is working for oversees the national co-operative that all Australian farmers sell their corn to. Harvest always seems to be a relaxed affair in Australia as they rarely have weather constraints. Fergus seems to be having the time of his life driving his 40ft combine and managing the harvest for a lovely family in Western Australia. We shall look forward to having one of their boys for our harvest next year, so that he can see how we farm in the UK. 

On a completely different note, and back to farming, while we were visiting the many different agricultural universities with Monty, the overriding comment that I would make regarding the courses is that the farming focus has been abolished on the majority of agricultural courses. 

Fundamentally they appear to have forgotten how to farm, and it’s all about sustainability and carbon footprint and not production. Obviously, these go hand in hand with each other, but you can’t teach one without the other. 

Modern day farming is very technical, but farming is also very practical; students still need to learn how to drill, combine, etc. We appear to have lost the ability to teach our youngsters how to farm. Most universities do not have their own farms to be able to teach practical or research skills and use nearby facilities that are contracted out. 

Currently there are 74 universities in the UK teaching agriculture and fewer than 40% have their own farms on which to train/teach students.  Asking many pertinent questions regarding the practical side of farming, I was told that students must learn how to farm in a sustainable way before producing food. When will the tide turn? When we go hungry?

Until next time, all that remain is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year. Stay safe.

Editor’s Note – and all that remains for all of us at South East Farmer is to send you our sincere congratulation on your marriage and wish you both all the very best for your future together.