This month Roger Evans contemplates what he would do if he were PM, regrets he didn’t get out of First Milk earlier, and finally wonders
why the plough isn’t digging in.
We moved to a new milk buyer on April 1. A lot of people were surprised when we gave notice to First Milk (FM) last summer. But the reasons were quite obvious to me.
When prices were going up it lagged well behind so it seemed likely to me that when they went down again it would lead the way. It was the market which was leading FM rather than anything it was doing itself.
This price disparity was something I could no longer afford. I could see clearly there was no strategy or investment to add any value to my milk which was then in what was called a liquid area. And finally I knew if I didn’t move soon there would be nowhere to go. I could see all this in the summer of 2013 and I should really have gone then.
Twelve months delay has cost me dearly. If FM is to be saved then radical decisions will have to be made. It is in an area of the country, from the west of Scotland to the Midlands of England, where they don’t want milk, and its pricing mechanisms spell that out clearly.
This has put the FM members in those area in a disastrous position, yet they have invested as much cash per litre of milk in to FM as anyone else. FM was created so farmer directors were always in the majority on the board. Nothing has happened at FM since the AGM of 2013 which they haven’t agreed with. Quite why they are all still there is beyond me.
My grandchildren think I should have been Prime Minister. I think it’s a good idea. The more I think about it the more it appeals to me. I’d be a sort of Clint Eastwood cowboy Prime Minister, righting wrongs wherever I should find them. I’d try to make everybody happy, but with the proviso some people are only happy if they have something to moan about. So I would cater for them as well.
The adults in my family, come to think about it most of the adults I know, think I should be the President of the National Sarcasm society. I find this very appealing as well. I think I could do both jobs at the same time.
At the end of April we had a biggish area, big for us, of fodder beet and kale to go in. If you remember it was dry then and the ground we were on had been grazed (turnips) during the winter and was hard to plough. My job was to be with the power harrow, but they had my tractor spreading fertiliser. Incidentally, I noticed I’m not allowed to scrape very often either, but I thought it was because the grandsons liked doing it, which is fair enough, but I’ve found out it’s because wooden cow kennels are difficult to weld.
Anyway, the plough is doing a very good job, considering, and as I am waiting for a tractor, I decide to go for a ride on the one doing the ploughing. However, we soon develop a problem because the plough starts ‘floating’ out of the ground, so sometimes we are barely scratching the surface.
Naturally, we try all sorts of adjustments but nothing seems to make much difference. But we do notice it’s much more of a problem going downhill.
So Stephen decides he will just plough uphill for an hour to see if he gets onto better ground. He’s not best pleased because the field is more than 40 acres, so this involves a lot of empty running about. As he is a bit grumpy I go home for my tea.
What is puzzling me is why the ploughing was fine and then suddenly it got worse? When I go back after tea, he’s ploughing up and down fine. I’m interested to know what’s happened. So he tells me that because I have bad knees he had lowered the tractor suspension so the step was not so high for me to climb aboard, and he forgot to put it back to the normal working height. So when he did remember, decent ploughing was once more the order of the day.
Naturally all the time wasted ploughing one way was my fault. “Bet you won’t put that in Dairy Farmer.” No, and I won’t tell them in the pub either!