OVER the years John has gained a comprehensive knowledge of how the ditches and drains work in our village. When we were in milk, all the run off and wash out from the dairy went into a huge underground holding tank. Once this was nearly full, an automatic float system started a pump which then irrigated the waste water on to a grass field. This system could be moved into different fields so that no run off occurred into drainage board dikes.

By definition, however, the drains around the village are domestic ones and the drainage board are not obliged to clear them. We (meaning John, of course) always kept our drains within the village clear, but newcomers into the village perhaps have not appreciated that ditches fronting their properties need to be kept free of leaves to ensure a good flow of excess run off.

Cue these anxious newcomers, none of whom have thought of possessing a drain rodding kit, or phoning us rather than run the gauntlet of an over excited sheepdog in our yard. The person they turn to when the lane is flooded or the ditches are overflowing, is the person who always sorts things out for everyone, me included, John. But this practical fella in the outside world is not so worldly-wise when it comes to “new fangled” inventions linked to the internet. Like many farmers of a certain age, he relied on his wife to complete the ever increasing demands from Defra and Rural Payments Agency.

Computer knowhow, however, won’t get a drain rodded or a ditch cleared, so this morning, after desperate pleas for help from neighbours, John will get things sorted to clear the village lane of standing water. There is, however, a pond forming in our house paddock which also needs draining.

From a small wet patch around Jo’s paddling pool that I kept topped up with a hose pipe through the summer for the lambs and poultry to drink out of, a vast expanse of standing water has formed. Not helped, of course, by the geese and ducks paddling the ground and creating an impervious bottom to this new aqua feature.

To put them to bed each night I have to splash through this water. The geese are experts at a quick about turn when I have nearly ushered them in and honk away in delight as I flounder in the mud. As I keep telling them. Behave, or you might not even achieve the Christmas deadline.