We are venturing far and wide to get fast work into the racehorses without putting them at risk of injury.
We drive to use a friend’s gallop near York and see how badly Wharfedale has been affected as we follow the river’s path as it hurtles eastward.
Valley bottoms remain underwater. Our cattle have been moved on to higher ground again. Nature is getting her revenge for being ignored.
The week has been tough. I took to my bed after being struck down with flu. Sometimes I ask myself why I take on so much. How joyous it would be to have time to relax, to literally do nothing, but then I remember.
A silent presence called guilt sits in the corner of the room, muttering the word ‘lazy’ every time my backside rests its bony self on the sofa. An inbred guilt every farmer knows.
Free time is not something that rests easy with me. Particularly at this time of year.
Farming is a labour of love. Fulfilling and joyful in spring, harsh and bare as winter allows.
The income figures for each agricultural sector, published by DEFRA for 2018-19, show income on a lowland grazing farm averaged £12,500 per annum and hill farms £15,500.
A fall of 39 per cent. With farmers working an average of 76 hours per week (£3ph), it is not a career taken on for financial reward.
It is, however, a career which can pull you under its spell. To some of my female ancestors, it became all-consuming.
They dedicated their lives to farming at the cost of all else. They never married or had children, rarely went out. Animals were their company. I can understand how it could happen, in a time when opportunity was sparse.
The world was a quieter, more contented place.
They loved their life, understood nature and expected little else. I can sense that same pull they felt.
The magic it holds. But I fear it too. I know it will take my energy, my enthusiasm and leave me worn out.
So, I search avidly for alternatives to fill any spare moment.
Particularly activities which may delay the imminent risk of a forgetful, demented mind I appreciate may well be on the horizon thanks to my selfish career choice.
The Master’s course, counselling exams, creative writing workshops, mental health awareness seminars.
For a time, they provide me with an escape from that presence lurking in the corner. An alternative spectrum to the world I am so familiar with, the world which could so easily consume me if I let it.