John Walton: Arctic Britain – two weeks after drilling

WELL all I can say is I’m glad I’m not a brass monkey with the weather we are experiencing at the moment, -10 so far and supposed to be getting colder.

It’s at times like this I feel like doing a squirrel’s trick, ‘gathering my nuts and hibernating’.

It seems quite weird that two weeks ago we were drilling the last of the corn into pretty dry ground; admittedly it was out of grass, but what a difference a fortnight makes. Needless to say there isn’t much showing yet.

The sheep have arrived on their annual holiday from Wales, a part of me looks forward to them arriving and Max, the farm dog, really gets excited as it gives him the opportunity to show off his natural ability to get them going in one direction without losing his cool. That is until it comes to getting them through the gate.

Once there, all hell breaks loose: I shout at the dog, the dog listens but not for long and decides to do it his way; the sheep obviously don’t understand me or the dog.

Glad to see back of them

It is at this point that I begin to look forward to them going back to where they came from, and I do tell them in words to that effect. The dog and I make up, and all is right again.

It is at this time of year, as things (apparently) get a little quieter, that the office beckons and all those things you have been putting off loom and can be put off no longer – things like meeting the insurance chap for a review which starts as a cost cutting exercise but ends up costing more with all the “what ifs”.

Things like going through all the piles which have accumulated over the weeks: the relief of finding that letter you lost several weeks ago; then the despair of knowing you should have also replied weeks ago.

Christmas is just around the corner and the school visits become more festive with live nativities. We have a new donkey who is very vocal and just at the critical time, when the children begin their rendition of ‘Silent Night’, it becomes obvious that the donkey has other ideas.

We also have festive weekends – for more information, visit



  • John Walton is a tenant farmer on an estate near Northwich, Cheshire, where he farms 275ha (680 acres). Besides milking 200 cows on an organic system, he grows arable crops, runs a vegetable box scheme and has an open farm, which attracted 70,000 visitors last year.

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