A millionaire’s view of farming…and the harvest
Jeremy Clarkson is new to farming. The TV host most famously known for a stint on a certain ‘top’ motor show is also the host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in the UK.
This year, amidst what has been a stressful harvest on his farm – which he named Diddly Squat – in Oxfordshire he says he is thinking of sitting in the wrong chair when filming the new series of the show.
Now Clarkson is no ordinary new entrant to farming. In his column in The Sunday Times this week, he described how when told he couldn’t store his grain in a bucket or a bath he built a grain store.
He then came to realise that this store wasn’t big enough to fit the barley in, but, aside from this he faced many of the regular challenges that tillage farmers encounter.
One line from last Sunday’s column surely resonated with many farmers whose crops hit low yields this season when he described the oilseed rape harvest: “I received the news that a whole year of properly hard graft had been a complete waste of time.
The combine has a computer that can tell how big the crop is. In a good year I could expect maybe 1.5t/ac, but the initial figure said 800kg.
Clarkson’s troubles got worse as he learned how to side fill and saw the 800kg get smaller as the unloading auger of the combine and the trailer struggled to line up.
On the bright side, here in Ireland, yields of spring barley were beginning to look better than expected before the weather put a stop to progress and wheat quality was good. Farmers who chose to keep winter wheat crops rather than replant after a harsh winter had made the right decision, but now wet weather is affecting quality and preventing harvesting.
“There’s a mad scramble to sell barley to Europe before the door is closed,” he explained. Struggling with the competitive pricing and 20% yield reduction Clarkson has decided to take the advice that farmers so often hear. He is going to diversify.
“It’s been said that, to make ends meet, farmers must diversify, and I have: Later on I shall be recording the first in a new series of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I think I may sit in the wrong chair and get the contestant to ask me the questions,” he concluded.
Sums up farming in a way few could manage
Reading Jeremy Clarkson’s column in The Sunday Times Magazine would give any farmer a lift knowing that someone with no prior farming experience can enter the business and point out the many rules that have to be followed; the paperwork that needs to be completed; and just paint a picture of the everyday struggles.
It’s a refreshing read that you need to hand to anyone who ever tells you that farmers should not be getting subsidies or grants; for the towns people who complain about the noise of a combine or the smell of slurry.
As well as providing a weekly laugh, Clarkson’s description of the struggles which he encounters from day-to-day sums up farming in a way few could manage.
When you’re not reading AgriLand it might be one to keep an eye out for!