THE day is misty. Visibility virtually zero. Every likelihood that the shoot John is a member of will cancel today. Which is ironic as he will not be taking part anyway seeing as, at this very moment in time, he is in an operating theatre having a replacement knee operation.

It has been a few years coming and a lot of cows, heifers and sheep taking it out on the said knee when they objected to either a milking cluster being attached to their udder, having their wool clipped, or a hand rummaging around in their most intimate areas when giving birth.

Over the years we have run through a raft of physio exercises and holes being bored in his knee to scrape floating bits of bone out. I have taped his knee up in a variety of lurid coloured wraps. Bought magnetic knee supports. Elasticated tubes. Knee vibrators - now there’s one to make your eyes water. Acupuncture. Hot wheat packs.

You name it, we have tried it. But the knife and a new knee can be put off no longer. So this morning, it is the rather fetching elasticated knickers and opened back gown for John and hopefully, a relief from the constant nagging pain that he has endured for longer than he should have if he had really made a fuss for the operation he so clearly needed.

In fact, if he hadn’t taken a bad tumble when we were fishing this summer, I would still probably be massaging his swollen knee, applying various anaesthetic creams and waiting for what seemed an eternity for him to stand up straight after getting out of a chair, my car or bed even. Clipping our sheep and a friend's flock took their toll too this summer. Every year for the past 20 he has declared himself an ex-sheep clipper, and every year he sharpens up the combs and tips those sheep upside down to shear them. So knowing him, with a new knee next year, he may still be bundling up sacks of fleeces for the Wool Marketing Board. I really hope so because that will be a true measure of the success of the operation.

But there is a long way to go and some rather complicated knee strengthening exercises to get through before then. And, most worrying of all for John, hospital meals. You would never think a six foot four inch, 15 stone farmer would be such a fussy eater would you. But he is. His sheet of menu choices had more crossings out than printed words. Think I shall be taking in emergency rations for the next few days.