Guy’s news: Respite, planning & ostriches

A thin layer of ice formed this morning on the rising waters of my newly built irrigation reservoir, and hung around all day; a week of frost and northerly winds has brought an abrupt end to two months of sun, warmth and unexpectedly luxuriant autumn growth. The plunging temperatures give our veg box planners relief from the tidal wave of greenery that has been coming off our fields and competing for a place in your kitchens over the last two months. Cauliflower heads that would have matured in a week will now take four to fill out; firm cabbages will stand for a month without splitting, and kales will hold until needed, while leeks plod on steadily, gaining weight regardless.

It has been a wonderful autumn to work outside, with good light and low humidity helping most crops go into winter strong and relatively disease free. There are still lots of potatoes in the ground; harvest has been delayed by their reluctance to set the firm skins that will protect them during harvest and help them store through the winter, so we must hope for an unusually dry November. Green manures are sown and have grown vigorously, soaking up the soluble nutrients that would be susceptible to loss by leaching from winter rain. Our last task in preparation for winter is to rip up any tractor ruts that have damaged the soil structure and reduced percolation rates (the speed water enters and moves down through the soil), to prevent run off and the risk of soil loss.

No sooner have we finished than it is time to plan for next year. Idealised contents of your boxes have been planned through to May 2020; it never works out perfectly, but (since I stopped doing it) reality comes remarkably close to the spreadsheet. Seeds must be ordered, rotations planned, manure and compost stockpiled and staff hired. Will we be able to get our crops back from my farm
in the Vendée, or from Pepe and Paco in Spain? Will Milan be here to drive the tractor? Can we trust that sanity, in some form, will prevail over vitriol, political egotism and collective madness? Despite the all-pervasive uncertainty, we are trying to mitigate risk with our Brexit plan – but with no firm ground to stand on, my leadership has crumpled. I can only sulk and bury my head like a
(mythical) ostrich. Please someone tell me when it’s over.

Guy Singh-Watson

16 responses to “Guy’s news: Respite, planning & ostriches

  1. I can understand your worries about your European farms and contacts; everything is uncertain at the moment.
    The wibbles are out in force in so many areas; travel, work, security and earnings are all up in the air. I dislike this uncertainty intensely; although I no longer travel or drive because of disability, I feel Britain is losing it’s way, and the Governmental infighting is not helping to get everyone together.
    The next few years are likely to be difficult for many, not just the lowest earners, but up into the middle income groups. Government has lost contact with the needs of the populace, and its confidence too.
    I truly understand your ‘ostritch’ comment, the situation cannot be easy for you, especially after building the company the way it is now.
    Keep strong, it may be a bumpy ride for us all!

  2. Keep going with your most amusing news letters please Guy; I look forward to receiving them and has brought another smile to my face today!

  3. A lovely piece , Guy. And I am campaigning for a people’s vote

  4. The People’s Vote is the only way out of this madness.

  5. Amazing as it may seem, there are some Riverford customers out here who are perfectly happy that the UK is leaving the EU and the last thing I personally want is another referendum. There WAS a “people’s vote” – it was in June 2016 and the decision was made to leave the EU. I’m sure there will be problems to solve ahead and organizations will have to adapt to the new situation but I thought the British were good at that sort of thing?
    If anyone reading this is tempted to tell me how wrong I am, please don’t bother. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.

  6. David Hall, I totally sympathize with you. Let’s stop bickering and just get on with it.

  7. Thanks David Hall you said it how it is. If only every time the Tories got in on a small majority I could say “no, I want another vote until you get it right “. Life would be so much better at the bottom of the social pile. Who trusts politicians anyway? They don’t know anymore than the rest of us,they just have vested interests.

  8. Gilly,

    the Conservatives didn’t get a majority. They HAD to buy the support of the DUP to even get the number of seats to form a Government.

  9. Good one Guy. Well done. 100% with you on Brexit. Peoples vote now.

  10. Another thought provoking piece from Guy. As with last week, just the mention of the word “Brexit” shows how bitterly divisive we, as a nation, have allowed it to become. For the record, I voted to Remain along with my wife and eldest son. Youngest son would have voted to Remain too, but he was two months shy of his 18th birthday. Are we bitter about the Referendum result? No. Do we respect the Referendum result? Yes, but that doesn’t stop us scratching our heads wondering how we as a nation got ourselves into this sorry mess in the first place. The next few months and years will be interesting because nobody really knows how things are going to go, although current signs are not promising. There should be a second vote to ensure that as a nation we are sure that whatever Brexit deal is agreed, it is what we as a nation want. Why? Because the implications of a Brexit deal were not known in June 2016, and they remain unknown today, particularly the Irish border issue. Is it not time we dropped the bitterness and started to respect those with a different view even if we don’t agree? That includes dropping the disrespectful “Remoaner” tag applied to those of us who made a considered and conscious decision to vote to remain in Europe.

  11. David Hall; I 100% agree with you! Well said.

  12. “…my newly built irrigation reservoir” interesting concept in a co-operative / shared ownership enterprise!

    • Thanks Bob, Guy was referring to the new reservoir he has built at his home farm rather than Riverford’s farm. Apologies if this wasn’t clear.

  13. One of the 700,000. My son and husband are now Irish citizens and I’m debating swapping to Spanish as I’d have to relinquish British citizenship. Good way to avoid the bile I suppose …. never felt so depressed about this
    ex-United Kingdom.

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