Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: Learning to handle uncertainty

Spring has arrived; soil is drying, grass is growing and farmers nationwide have finally emerged from the wettest 18 months since Met Office records began in 1836, meaning one thing’s certain – uncertainty.

Helen Cork

For generations, farmers have learned to handle uncertainty: wildly varying input costs, fluctuating income, health of livestock and crops and – of course – the weather.

Uncertainty can make farming rewarding, no day is the same and comfort zones are regularly tested, encouraging those involved in agriculture to grow, to develop new skills and knowledge.

You may have heard of Brewood based farmer, Tim Parton.

One moment turned a normal March day into a life changing one for Tim, when he was injured whilst removing a tree which was damaging a grain store.

Tim’s remained in hospital since that day and life will be very different for him when he leaves, so his good friend, farmer Michael Kavanagh, set up a fundraiser to assist Tim and his family in their new life.

Michael explained: “I realised a lot of people who know Tim or had heard him speak wanted to give something back in his time of need. An incredible outpouring of love for a wonderful man has followed, with over 450 donations totalling £53,000, so far. This has overwhelmed Tim; he is incredibly humbled.”

To donate to Tim’s cause, please visit

Farmers like Tim are eternal optimists, with a passion for their work and a drive to adapt. Some days, however, can be overly challenging, and looking to our peers can help.

During Radio 4’s ‘On Your Farm’, Jeremy Clarkson explained how talking to other farmers can be beneficial, saying, “When you have a hangover on your own, that’s a horrible thing; when you are in a room full of people who all have hangovers, it can actually be quite fun - making one another laugh - and that’s probably the best tonic.”

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week and there are a several charities offering mental health support for farmers – FCN, RABI, Shropshire Rural Support, DPJ (Wales).

by Helen Cork, Shropshire farmer and writer

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