Mud is part of the deal when you live on a farm, inevitably. When fields, livestock and rain are combined, mud is what you get.

I made the mistake recently of wearing a pair of shoes to take a bucket of feed into the horse’s field.

I was cutting corners in an attempt to save time, but paid the price by not reaching for my wellies. The gateway was muddy and I lost a shoe, leaving me ankle deep in brown goo. It wasn’t a great start to the day.

That same day I read a newspaper article which reported that many parents were too afraid to take their children walking in the countryside because they didn’t want them to get dirty.

What would these parents have made of my own mud-soaked foot, I pondered?

Mud seems to be abhorrent in a society obsessed with cleanliness. As a consequence, exposure to the countryside is not a priority.

I don’t relish the washing that piles up after our children have had a day on the farm, but overalls do a sterling job and mud washes away.

Children who are being denied access to the countryside are being robbed of the fundamental sense of independence and freedom in nature that most of us as parents enjoyed.

Apparently contact with nature has halved in a generation, even though the overwhelming majority of children are hungry for opportunities to play outdoors.

Whether it be through pond dipping or tree climbing, nature-based activities can play an important role in the educational and social development of children.

It may mean an extra basket of washing and time spent scraping dried mud from the tread of footwear, but it has got to be worth it.