On a farm you have to learn to do a lot of things yourself and one of the things that I’ve had to learn something about is plumbing. Quite apart from the expense of getting a plumber in, twenty years ago they were often not willing to come all the way out to the Crags. Farm plumbing is also different to urban plumbing. A lot of what you do has to be of a temporary nature because things are always changing and if you spend a lot of money putting in a permanent system, you are likely to find yourself wishing you’d done it differently six months down the road. So the answer is to do what is necessary as cheaply as possible. ‘Cheap’ doesn’t last well and those sections of pipe and valves that you do leave in place for an extended time eventually start leaking and have to be replaced or fixed.

Our plumbing is very complicated. When I look at the twisted mass of nylon pipe at the back of the house, I wonder what half of it is for. But I put it all there and if I don’t know, who does? I’m not adept at plumbing or electricity and a farmer really should be, so when it becomes unavoidable, I roll up my sleeves and give it a go. The air around me is generally pretty blue while I do so and even the dogs tend to find quieter spots until I am done. Twenty-odd years on, It all still remains mysterious to me.

Many is the time I’ve “fixed” a pump by taking it apart in the hope that the reason for the malfunction will make itself clear to me. Finding nothing and in despair, I put it all back together and find that perversely, it works, leaving me completely flummoxed.