GAZETTE columnist Peter Fairs has seen “incredible” changes in his lifetime of farming.

From new crops and methods to the rise of technology and health and safety, it has been a long, eventful career but one he has enjoyed immensely.

Mr Fairs is showing no sign of slowing up.

By his own admission, he still loves his work and relishes the many and varied challenges it presents.

However, amid his busy, hectic schedule, he has found time to pen memories and recollections of his lifetime in the countryside.

The Happy Farmer is his first foray into the world of publishing and he says the book, being released later this month, proved an enjoyable and cathartic experience.

“This is the first book I’ve ever written so it’s a bit nerve-wracking,” said the 76-year-old, who writes regular columns for the Gazette and its sister paper, the Essex County Standard and whose family farm is in Great Tey.

“But I’m happy with the finished product and it’s a process I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

“It’s a reflection on my life - mainly farming, of course, but also other aspects of my life, like being captain of Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club and Colchester Golf Club.

“I also talk about my early years at boarding school, which were difficult for me as I just wanted to be out on the family farm, and I reflect on my father’s life and some of his experiences in the First World War.

“It started as a diary and a way for me to record some of the things I’ve enjoyed and been part of.

“Then when I made contact with a publisher, they felt it would make a book and that’s how we’ve reached this point.

“In some respects, it’s not a good time to launch a book and the world has changed so much since I first start writing, because of coronavirus.

“However, in a way, I see it as fortuitous timing because it’s a reflection of my life pre-Covid.

“Everyone has an interesting life and a story to tell. I wanted to tell mine while I’m still able to.”

Mr Fairs, who is married to Penny, has three children, Andrew, Roger and Bridget, and eight grandchildren, grew up on the farm, which was previously owned by his grandfather and father, Harold.

Then 200 acres, it now sprawls 5,000 acres and spreads to nearby villages, including Easthorpe and Bures.

Alongside huge growth, former Tendring Show president Mr Fairs has seen plenty of changes within the industry.

“It’s incredible,” he said.

“When I started, farming was all about food production.

“This was an era when the war and rationing was still in people’s memories.

“Now, there’s much more emphasis on the environment and food production is taken for granted.

“It’s almost like it’s been pushed to the back of the queue.

“I love agriculture and farming, though, and always have done.

“What could be better than running your own business in the countryside?

“Every day is different and there are always challenges, from new crops and environmental projects to the different use of farm buildings.

“It’s exciting and there are always opportunities.

“There’s a bit of stress, of course.

“Our unpredictable weather can be an issue sometimes, but I can’t see myself ever retiring.

“I might not be able to do as much manual work as I used to, but there are plenty of other areas I can concentrate on.

“There’s always a reason to get up in the morning and I thrive on the challenge.”

The Happy Farmer, published by Arena Books and available from Amazon and Waterstones, is published on August 25.