“I DON’T do shopping,” John told me when I asked if he could pick up some grapefruit.

This is true. Although, misquoting Jane Austen that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a farmer in possession of the Land Rover has no time for such distractions, I never usually ask if he will.

I enjoy the lack of interference in my domestic purchases and general disinterest in how I fritter away the housekeeping. He was, however, on his way out to collect a couple of bags of sheep nuts and extra cartridges for shoots, so technically, in my eyes, shopping.

As long as there is no lack of the comestibles that appeal to his tastebuds and a roast dinner on the table at mealtimes, I can shop with impunity. But he is the only one of us that eats grapefruit and there is a fruit and veg shop next to agricultural store he was visiting.

The times he has been in a shop with me can be counted on one hand. “What do you need that for? Why are you getting so many of those?” being the general line of enquiry. Not an aggressive form of questioning, just bafflement at any purchases I want that are not directly linked to an agricultural, shooting or fishing.

And there has been a marked increase in his need for cartridges recently. As the end of the shooting season draws nigh, the invitations have increased. The dogs are having a field day as I thaw out mysterious outdated and often unlabelled bags of frost bitten comestibles and add them to their dinner so that I can create room for fresh booty.

John is a reliable, safe shot. Way back in his clay pigeon competition shooting days he regularly competed with and beat national shooters. But he could not devote the time needed to professionally chase competitions. We relied heavily then on the milk cheque for an income and livestock cannot be neglected. But now with the herd and most of the land sold he can devote time to his many hobbies.

Time was too when he was always followed round a competition by a small number of shooting devotees. Me included. But things change. This last Saturday he noticed he was being shadowed to each peg by a Kubota utility vehicle filled with three friends who are currently recovering from different operations on hips, knees and shoulders. Compo, Cleggy and Foggy from Last of the Summer Wine are now his groupies. And I was off shopping.