Moving clocks back is just a case of shuffling chairs

Columnist
Columnist

A wet week followed by a very rough wet and windy weekend has not improved conditions on the land or on the building site; indeed it seems the builders whose ‘hi-viz’ jackets are now a paler shade of brown, seem to be spending most of their time pumping water!

Every day I think to myself, thank goodness we got the maize in. Can you imagine the mess and mud on the road it would all cause now. I see that small areas which were still to be cut were snatched in between showers by neighbouring farmers last week. That third cut of grass is still in our fields though, and it will need to come off this week unless an ‘Indian Summer’ is just around the corner? Now there’s a thought.

Our young-stock are all out grazing and there is so much grass in front of them, only the ground conditions will make us bring them in. At the moment the conditions are manageable, but as we get into November it will deteriorate as the wet weather penetrates deeper into the clay.

At Tillington we have no such worries, they can stay out all winter as long as the grass is there and we feed them some supplement. The milk is going up slowly now as we get into better maize silage. We cut 400t of maize early in order to get the cows on a proper diet, and whilst that worked we now see the difference as we start feeding maize which was cut at the right time and has more starch.

The cows are doing very well considering the amount of noise and distraction going on around the buildings. Some cows were changing sheds almost on a weekly basis as the builders moved in to remove cubicles, or dig a trench to take water away, or needed to divert a drain.

All in all the cows seem to have taken it in their stride, but it has an effect and I expect it has cost us a litre or two over the period. Luckily our cows are very quiet and they are not fazed by anything, which is just as well when ‘kango’ guns and mini-diggers are all around! I don’t think things will settle down until after Christmas, and maybe then we can look forward to some stability and start measuring performance.

So we now have an extra hour of light in the morning at the expense of an extra hour of darkness in the evening. I think we call that fiddling with the deck-chairs? Winter is coming and the days are getting shorter and the number of daylight hours are the same whatever we do with the clock. There is plenty of evidence to show that it would be safer if we stayed on summer time, and enjoy double summer-time from the spring onwards, just like Europe.

I know that we mustn’t say Europe as that is another excuse not to stay where it makes sense, but can I ask that if Alex Salmond gets independence for Scotland that they can stay on this depressing hour, have a different time zone to truly demark their country and the rest of the UK follows Europe?

Autumn colours are stunning now, and if the wind leaves things alone for a while longer they will remain and develop over the coming weeks. We have been apple-juicing now that it’s the end of October. A huge crop this year and the freezer is almost full.

The press has been in action elsewhere too as we have ‘juicing BBQ’s’, where we get together to do the work and have a BBQ afterwards, making sure that the balance is right between work and social pleasure. Having carried out some modifications to the pulping device, which was to remove the handle and replace it with a gearbox which is driven by a heavy-duty electric drill, the job is much easier. We juiced over 50 litres at a friend’s house the other night which is good going I think.

Jake tells me the weather in Victoria is also wet, with hailstones to boot! Ground conditions are bad he says, and it will take some sorting out after the cows before some of the paddocks can be cut for silage.

He’s milking in a rotary parlour and tells me that this is the way to go, ‘Night and day compared to our herringbone ‘he says. Speaking of the southern hemisphere, did you know that the total population of New Zealand is equal to three weeks of current global population growth; a sobering thought.

As we produce power on the farm, I have been fascinated by the debate on energy prices, and the debate on how we produce more in this country in order to stop the lights going out.

Building new capacity, and wanting prices to come down is a slight conflict I believe, but Ed Milliband has them all on the run over this. Given that in the South East there is huge opposition to fracking and a belief it should be carried out elsewhere, the government has a problem.

The National Trust however, have come out with a strong statement stating that they are willing to look at fracking on their land.

They have a hatred of windmills of course and as they own the coastline around most of this country they are affected not only by wind farms on land but proposed massive wind farms on the sea.

The ‘Greens’ have had to concede that alternative green power will not be near enough to bridge the energy gap we have in this country, nor is it affordable, and as the obsession is with carbon, they have found themselves in favour of nuclear power; a delicious irony.

This is staggering considering it was the Greens and their pressure groups who bullied the Labour Party into a decade of inaction when the economy was booming, and that is why we find ourselves today looking to build Nuclear Power Stations ten years too late which is why the cost of power is going up and will continue to rise.

That is why we find ourselves in the age of austerity (another obsession) not willing to fund these nuclear facilities ourselves, looking to the Chinese and French to come and build them for us.

I find all this rather absurd if I am honest. Given that Nuclear power is the cheapest and safest source of power, and given that we have need for investment, jobs and major programmes in order to get the economy going in this country, is it really out of our league to build our own?

Why should beleaguered consumers pay double the amount for energy they use, only to see the money on investment go abroad as dividends?

Some work will come our way but Areva the French nuclear group has already stated that they will be building the main heavy components which represents 30% of the contractual value, and the companies have contradicted the Prime Minister, stating that there is no ‘guarantee’ of British jobs.