In the unlikely scenario that I ever appear on Mastermind, my specialist subject will be the complete works of Henry Brewis.
The phrase ‘many a true word is said in jest’ has never been more apt than when applied to his writing.
Okay, in today’s ‘woke’ society his politically incorrect views would no doubt cause much ire, but in many ways I think that would be a shame.
It is fair to say that in terms of earning a living there are easier ways to do so than becoming a farmer.
Farming is hard on the soul, in fact at times it can be brutal.
Even the best managed farms end up with dead animals or failed crops. There is no point in glossing over the facts, Henry never did.
Yet we as an industry frequently do.
Now I know I need to tread lightly here, we are right to promote ourselves as being among the top in the world at what we do, but there is still much need for reality and indeed improvement.
I would like to cite the sheep industry as an example.
Sheep are often promoted as the ideal enterprise mix – relatively low capital investment and if every farming magazine is to be believed, potentially higher gross margin per acre than many crops.
Within a couple of years you will be showing all the ‘stuck in their ways’ old fashioned sheep farmers how to rear 1.9 lambs to the ewe while achieving record breaking growth rates all from minimal supplementary feeding.
If Sunday night television is to believed, you can achieve all this while dressing immaculately and maintaining that all important sponsorship from Pantene Pro-V.
The problem is that this encourages people with little or no expertise to start up on their own.
Some of them will be very good and will do well, others not so much.
I cannot be the only person who shakes their head when he hears of another new entrant reaching breaking point because they failed to vaccinate their ewes for enzootic abortion (please everyone vaccinate for this), or when I see people asking for advice on social media in respect of husbandry tasks which are either so simple that if they cannot manage them they should not be keeping livestock, or are so serious that they should be referring to their vet.
Worst of all is when I see other ‘experienced’ farmers giving out bad advice on treatment of ailments ranging from suggestions James Herriot would have thought outdated to blatantly dangerous advice on antibiotic usage.
Perhaps it is time new livestock keepers faced some sort of assessment or licensing. It seems that anyone, no matter their background, can buy livestock. Surely that is wrong.
Anyway, here endeth the rant.
I need to go and collect an upside-down sheep from one of my fields. It is depressing, but at least my lamb to ewe ratio has just increased again.