Fake news, social media, publicity: embrace it or ignore it, there’s no denying modern communication has an impact says Monica Akehurst

Working in A&E on new year’s eve, there’s plenty of action, alcohol fumes and never a dull moment. I recall a very jovial, not so young gentleman who had attempted to ride his bicycle home from the pub. Unfortunately he fell off, sustaining a head wound.

This extremely chatty client also demonstrated his singing skills while I was attempting to stem the flow of blood. Although a fair seamstress, it’s not easy suturing moving targets. My requests to remain still were unheeded. Exasperated I sternly commanded “will you keep still” and this merry chap waved his hand admonishing “now, now, what’s that magic little word that you need to use?”

There were several words that sprung to mind. However I interjected the word “please..will you keep still.” Miraculously he responded and was as good as gold, mended in no time at all. I found it hugely amusing and a timely reminder that common courtesy pays dividends whatever the circumstances.

This year we saw the new year in at home watching the impressive fireworks from the comfort of the armchair. Otherwise I think even a good calving would have rivalled the entertainment on offer.

2017 has begun with much talk of Brexit and how it’s all going to work. Nobody knows for sure and I certainly don’t envy Theresa May her job. Our European colleagues are keen to stick the knife in – or so it appears – and yet they were supposed to be our friends. When article 50 is triggered everyone’s true colours will be revealed. I’m trying to remain positive but the radio isn’t helping. It’s just announced that today is blue Monday: never heard of it? Me neither! But according to Radio Two, it’s the most depressing day of the year. It’s certainly a gloomy, cold day, but at least it’s not snowing. The white stuff may look picturesque but it causes too much work for my liking.

“Our European colleagues are keen to stick the knife in – or so it appears – and yet they were supposed to be our friends. When article 50 is triggered everyone’s true colours will be revealed.”

Fake news, social media, publicity: embrace it or ignore it, there’s no denying modern communication has an impact. The men folk admired the scenery on the advert posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) featuring a naked Alicia Silverstone. It was entitled “I’d rather go naked than wear wool.”

Personally I’d reverse this slogan. The fact is, shearing is done to aid the welfare of sheep. I assume that vegans would like to live in a world devoid of animals where no food chain exists, but that is not how the natural world works. Our income from wool barely covers shearing costs.

In my opinion wool is superior to any manufactured material. I certainly recommend woollen duvets, which keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Even I was sceptical about this claim but since buying one I’m a firm convert: it really is magical. These vegans are missing a trick.

The power of social media can bring you more than you bargained for. Borough Market, for example, used Facebook to advertise an evening of cheese in mid December and 15,000 plus people turned up! Those who attended were keen to taste, discuss and buy quality cheese from the cheesemongers.

The popularity of this event resulted in chaotic overcrowding which got reported in several newspapers. This proves that some people are rebelling against buying the prepackaged mass produced cheese from supermarket shelves. The vegans joined the throng, waving anti cheese banners and streaming videos of sad looking cows. This had little impact on the festive occasion, but added to the crowd.

A few years ago I helped a friend who sold yogurt at Borough Market. It was a long hard day but very rewarding. If you’ve not been there, it’s well worth a visit. This market is at London Bridge and has been in existence for 1,000 years. It’s awe inspiring to watch the art of selling deployed by these market traders and mind blowing to see the sheer numbers of people.

There is an atmospheric hustle and bustle making buying and selling food more fun. It’s good to know that there are people out there who do appreciate the food that farmers produce. Low farm gate prices due to the downwards pressure exerted by the large retailers can be demoralising for farmers, especially when much effort has gone into producing quality food.

Farm subsidies were discussed recently on the Jeremy Vine show. They pointed out that most countries support their farmers because they want to keep food affordable. There was the usual rhetoric about bank rolling the super rich and feudal scam comments, versus the statistics that only 12% of income is spent on food, and subsidies cost tax payers 23p per day. George Mombiot was talking of re wilding, replacing hill sheep with wolves and lions. I think shepherds have enough to contend with, and the ramblers might object.

In our real world, “The Boy” learnt that calves kick: we were dehorning calves and now he’s limping! We had pleasing scanning results for the suckler herd. Only one Simmental cross heifer who we’d thought would make a good cow was disappointingly empty. She’ll go now, but is annoyingly over 30 months.

The sheep are due to be scanned in February. Half our breeding flock are grazing Pevensey marshes. No worries about water flowing over the wellies this year. The other ewes are at home, being supplemented with silage. While lookering this flock I’ve been privileged with observing the beautiful sight of a kingfisher in residence alongside our stream. We keep trickling fat lamb into market and have added beans to our oats and barley fattening mix.

We’ve enjoyed the camaraderie in the shooting field and our spaniels love their work. This season has flown by so fast, just like some of those elusive birds.

A version of this story first appeared in the South East Farmer magazine