Well it’s not raining at the moment. I mean it was, and doubtless will be soon, but just at the moment it’s fine and mild. True the ground hasn’t dried out yet but at least there isn’t as much standing water as there was. One neighbour has even managed to plough something. They always used to say a peck of March dust was worth a king’s ransom. It would be nice to have the ground dry enough to drive across without nervousness.
Still, it’s not bad out, Sal was mooching about whilst I was checking heifers. I thought I might get a photo of her starring at the swans but she never stops still long enough to even look cute.
It’s difficult trying to work out what’s going to happen next. I saw where somebody was getting a poorer price for quality beef because the restaurant market had suddenly dried up. Another issue is those people who depend upon labour who come in from outside this country. Ignore totally the aspect of what scheme they have available to come in on, that is barely relevant at the moment. Far more importantly will their own country let them leave and will our border authorities let them enter?
Indeed I was talking to somebody in hospitality who depends on a lot of staff who came in from Spain. They will struggle to get here and he is very doubtful as to whether he’ll need them if they do arrive. Will there be a tourist season this year? There again, I can quite seriously see there being a market for remote self-catering cottages. Stir crazy over-seventies could be desperate for somewhere they can go and still feel somewhat isolated. Might be a useful marketing angle for those on farms who have just a cottage or so.
I also read the latest modelling work which has accelerated the government’s shift of policy. It’s at
It looks as if the policy of slowing the spread of the virus so that we build up herd immunity (supported by the old data) has been abandoned because new data showed that it was going to be far too costly in lives. So we’re now in a policy of shut everything down to suppress it. The problem with this is that we can do it, but the minute we relax, the virus is still there and will just burst out again because the population is still relatively naive. The best option they can find is to relax the restrictions when the number of people we have in intensive care units drops to fifty a week, and slam the restrictions back on when numbers go up to one hundred a week. It produces this sort of graph.
The problem is that this has to be in place for about two years to get the level of herd immunity up to a level at which the population is largely safe. It is probably going to take about that length of time to produce a vaccine, check that it works and is safe, then get it manufactured and distributed throughout the community.
So personally, looking ahead for farmers I think that we have to assume that things are going to be pretty sticky for the next year or so.
On the positive side, a lot of the contractors we use can ‘self-isolate’ whilst working from a tractor cab. At the moment I think the big issues will be at either end of the chain. Here in dairy farming we’re very dependent on those working in the feed mills and those working in the dairies. But we’re also reliant on people in warehouses loading the teat dip into a van to send round.
So basically, stay well out there and look after yourselves.
There again, what do I know? You could always ask an expert
Now in paperback and ebook. Perfect if you’ve not managed to stockpile enough toilet paper
As a reviewer commented, “Once in a while a book really gets to you. Jim Webster’s book Sometimes I just Sits and Thinks has done just that to me. Jim is a farmer in the English county of Cumbria. His sense of humour shines throughout each episode. If you come from farming stock as I do, this is the book for you. In my mind’s eye I was out there with Jim and his faithful Border Collies Jess and Sal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book…”