As someone who has slight recollections of the 1939-45 war, when Britain was under different pressures, those of us who live in the countryside have to be thankful for many small mercies. Not the least of these has been the manner in which our small communities and close neighbours have rekindled the wartime spirit that was such a part of our fight against Adolf’s forces.

My wife and I have been almost overcome by the kindness of neighbours, some almost unknown and newish residents, who have phoned or called with offers to help with enquiries of ‘anything you need’, from transport to collecting provisions or other services. Given the risk of spreading this virus to others, and since we are no longer in the absolute prime of our lives, these kind thoughts are so appreciated. We are also able to ‘self isolate’ on our own land, like many farming families, so making life a lot more liveable, particularly when you think how restricting it will be for many people, pent up in a small flat in a city with the only way out a communal lift to the street.

Let us all hope the Government’s warnings on unnecessary mixing and spreading the virus is heeded and that its shadow will soon pass. So many people have been sorely tested and yet the British are an amazingly strong and resolute race when under extreme pressure. These past few months have really tested that spirit again.

All this follows the dramas we have suffered in the way of a really wet winter. ‘Experts’ will say it’s the wettest, or warmest, spell since 1890, or since records began. But the weather has been around a lot longer than the ‘experts’ and their records, while history talks about things like the ice age and the great floods, and snow which reached the upper windows and stayed for many weeks.

I remember hot, dry summers which went on for many weeks in 1959, 1975 and 1976, causing havoc to farming across the country. I clearly remember floods in the fifties which were close to qualifying as ‘one in a hundred year’ events, with unbroken water stretching a mile from one village, close to the flood plain, to the next.

In recent years I have seen similarly named ‘one in a hundred year’ floods locally which have become ‘one in three year’ events, but which have been caused almost entirely by the lack of river maintenance by the Environment Agency. Yet with this absurd recent practice of calling these winter storms Storm A, B or C they are able to allocate the blame and hide neglect and incompetence behind this official conspiracy.

The agency is, in my view, expensive, surplus to needs and something that passed its sell by date almost as soon as it started operations in 1996. It provides cosy directorships for too many worthy people and unjustified staff, and for what? Certainly nothing around areas of the countryside I see regularly, and I guess if you ask the householders in the worst flood hit areas in the Midlands they will say the same.

Yet if you ask residents around the River Parrett in Somerset for their opinion it would be quite different. Why? Because the EA was forced, by a knowledgeable environment minister into removing years of accumulations of silt from the river, so allowing the waters to get away to the sea. A minister who understood that water runs better downhill! Who realised, like Christopher Robin, that Pooh Sticks float with the current and that if a twig dropped in the water drifts upstream in a non-tidal ditch or brook there is something blocked downstream.

And unless this madness is taken in hand, I expect that the blockage will soon be caused by dams built by beavers being released with the encouragement and blessing of similar ‘experts’, the Chris Packhams and George Mombiots of this enlightened age. Rant over, it’s summer now. But let’s be ready for the next ‘one in three year’ flood ‘event’ – unless someone with some sense gets the rivers de-silted.

Works are now progressing with the vineyard. The land is being ploughed in readiness for the planters and Emma is learning about her new life; it’s an exciting new world for her and an interesting one for us. We finally sold our last remaining cattle through Hailsham Market in March. Ten strong British Friesian steers that sold better than I expected, but I think this virus concern helped the trade. It is a strange feeling, walking round empty cattle sheds and empty meadows where I have seen and tended our cattle my whole life.

Now the grass has all been sprayed off and, thankfully, land dried enough to spread the last muck and get ready for drilling maize. Some 20 acres of brookland has been left in the hope a neighbour will run cattle on it for the summer, because since it has been down to direct drilled grass for a long time, I am a little worried it might be hosting wireworm which, as most farmers know, are now protected by EU environmental legislation.

It’s strange how almost every pesticide that works to the benefit of farming has been banned from use. Surely, in today’s troubled world we need farmers able to grow healthy crops rather than protecting such pests? I am advised the only way we can hope to stop the wireworm is to ‘give the crop a good steady rolling after drilling’. I hope the heavy roller doesn’t flatten any of the little things.