The Season: A Farmer’s Perspective

As a farmer, I am frequently asked which is my favourite season?

My first response is autumn. I love the mellow settled weather that descends and the soft, dappled, golden light that seeps through the yellow and red of the trees. I feel comforted knowing when the hay is safely stacked in the barn and the harvests are successfully gathered. Calmly, I know my animals and I will be ok in the months to come. So autumn is a good time. And yet, and yet…

I love winter. The starkness of the trees that border my fields reveal their real skeletal beauty and as, a student of bonsai, I often take pictures of their intriguing structures laid so bare. The crunch of a hard frost underfoot is enticing and the prism-like ice crystals which decorate fallen leaves are stunningly beautiful. The same frost which silhouettes spiders’ webs framed by the bars of farm gates makes me wonder why we need to buy Christmas decorations when our clever 8 legged companions do so a great job. And yet, and yet…

What’s not to love about spring? The joy of lengthening days so I don’t have to rush my animal rounds before early nightfall. The first crocus popping up from apparently nowhere and the green fuzzy haze of the hawthorn buds in the hedgerows. Then the fresh smell of the apple blossoms in the orchard and, of course, the sound of lambs shouting for their mums.

But, ask people, what of summer surely? Truth be told – I don’t like summer. The hot tiring days bring with them the relentless fight to protect my sheep from ghastly flystrike and dreaded maggots. They also generate the perfect environment for explosions in the populations of soil-based internal parasites which means a constant state of alert and having to worm my sheep regularly. And then there are the summer liver fluke months, when even the smallest puddle of water pooled up in the track of a long-passed tractor tyre can become a death trap for my lovely sheep. So no, spare me and my flock the summer!

Jessica Cross