I have a confession to make – I am an addict!

Not the ones you might immediately think of, like alcohol, smoking or farm machinery – although two of those might be close. My addiction is podcasts – many hours of self isolation on various duties and rubbish on the radio have driven me to this.

My current favourites are 'Your dead to me' (not as gloomy as you might expect and quite funny); 'Real Dictators' (not funny but quite enlightening) and the most recent one on Colonel Muamar Gaddafi, of Libya, a salutatory lesson to all politicians and a topic I shall come back to later in this article.

My wife, Anne and I try to get away in July at some point. Last year didn’t happen, so we were determined to have some time away and I’m always being told that when you think your barley is nearly ready to cut, go away for a week and it will be all the better for that.

A week was too much (for me) so three or four days was arranged cycling from Loch Rannoch up to Rannoch Station, train to Fort William stay a few nights then back for a couple of nights at Loch Rannoch. The weather and scenery was stunning with what I can only describe as Mediterranean temperatures throughout the trip.

On the short trip home on July 26, I idly commented that: “I bet our neighbour is combining that early field next to our house.” I was wrong, he was not combining as the field was sprinkled with bales, so had been cut two days before.

There is nothing like a combine going in the area to ripen all the neighbours fields and did nothing to lower my blood pressure!

Harvest for us started on July 29 with winter barley and finished quite unbelievably on August 29 with the last of the wheat swept up. I would not say that yields were anything to get excited about as the very cold snap in spring had taken its toll on spring barleys and OSR, but the wheat and oats have been acceptable.

I am not going to reel off yields, as nobody believes high yields and it saves me the embarrassment of mentioning any poor results in a national paper! All I would say is look at the national five-year average yield of wheat, which is 8.4 tonnes per ha and the next time you hear 12 tonnes/ha average just raise an eyebrow and say 'that’s nice.'

Sowing has been going on at great pace, with OSR now past the slug and flea beetle 'take out' stage, although we have not escaped totally with areas next to grass margins and trees taking a bit of a hit but sufficient plants remain, though pigeons will be a constant threat from now on.

We always sow wheat quite early after oats, or rape and 90% of what's planned is in and peeping through and looking well. The pedal is firmly to the metal and we reached half-way stage in winter barley drilling this past weekend, August 5 and with 3.5mm of rain overnight, I took the opportunity to write this before battle commenced again.

Harvest seldom goes entirely to plan, but with the weather as it has been for us, at least a smooth passage has ensued. I know that many south of the Border are moaning about a 'non summer' weather wise and bemoaning the fact that they have had to start up their dryers. I will let you pause for breath as most of Scotland, or certainly here in Aberdeenshire, laugh uncontrollably.

A small hiccup that we did have occurred at 16:45 on a Friday evening. Everything was cruising, we had just finished a 27 ha wheat field and sights were firmly on knocking out headlands of the next one in line. Anne who along with all household chores/ feeding everyone and occasional grain carting, is in charge of all things dryer related.

The telephone conversation went something like this: Anne: "An alarm has come on the JCB"; Me, on the combine: "What does it say?"; Anne: "It’s a red light and the temperature gauge is high"; Me: "Have you cleaned out the radiator?"; Anne, after a short pause: "YES!"

It's at this point that every husband who asks his nearest and dearest a question which you know you should not have asked dreads, but I was shaken off the hook by our extremely capable harvest help known affectionately as 'Big Andrew' and not for the first time came to my rescue by diagnosing a shredded fan belt.

This would have seemed a simple enough problem to solve as a main dealer is only half an hour down the road and with the whole farm now grinding to halt as JCB is instrumental in just about everything that moves.

A simple phone call and all would be well but no, the main dealer store person was clearly looking forward to a great weekend as we were informed that the fan belt would be in on Tuesday as it a bank holiday don’t you know?

I am sure you can all imagine the rest of the conversation, suffice to say that our local engineers, Donald Rae and Son, had us up and running with minimal fuss but this is an example of how we possibly may have problems in sourcing parts going forward, with staff and lorry shortages being well documented recently. We all know why!

In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was unceremoniously dragged out of a sewer, severely beaten with a metal rod (there is worse but I shall spare you the detail) then shot a multitude of times with his own gun.

Why am I sharing this? The Arab Spring was happening and an impending food crisis was to see the demise of dictators, like Gaddafi, who had been suppressing his people (which he was getting away with) but when food purchases make up 70% of an individual’s basic income and bread prices increase by 30-40%, then something has to give.

I’m not suggesting that the horrors that befell Gaddafi would happen here, but as in 1906, when Alfred Henry Lewis stated: “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy,” and echoed by Leon Trotsky you can appreciate where the lessons for politicians can come from.

I am on the very unfortunately named ARIOB (I can’t get Air BnB out of my head for some reason) tasked with cutting emissions and tackling climate change. We have been waiting for this for some time and I don’t envy the co-chairs, given the task of coping with so many in one board, but I would like to think that a clear focus will be the order of the day and that the work of the Farmer-Led Groups will be front and centre.

Our first meeting is next week, so it will be foot firmly on the loud pedal – not in speech but in deeds ... much like harvest and sowing progress and that food production needs to be up there, thus preventing unfortunate scenes witnessed only 10 years ago in Libya.