Harvest Time

With the north wind and all the heavy rain over the past week it has felt more like October weather. I feel for the farmers who are waiting to bring in their summer cereal crops or the ones who have cut but are waiting to bale. Even though we may now be in for a dryish week ahead, there will be a few laden combines that get stuck in the soggier parts of fields. It reminds me a little of August 2004 when it rained and rained and arable fields just became a muddy mess with fields of abandoned barley and wheat slowly turning black. It must be depressing to see months of work (and investment) just wasting away, all the while being helpless to do anything. A far cry from the world of a steady salary or sick pay and redundancy payments if things don't quite go to plan.

A rare treat to awake to sunshine after a fortnight of wind, rain and grey skies

For those farmers determined to make the most of what they can, last night was a case of seizing a break in weather. As I drove home, fields were alight with activity of combines and accompanying tractors and trailer convoys working into the night. I would imagine that their profits will be seriously dented, if not wiped out, by fuel costs to dry the grain. Something the sun and the wind should mostly be doing. However the fields have to be cleared in order to pave the way for the next crop even if it means at a loss. No wonder farming is said to be a profession of hope.

Burning the midnight oil

Our own little harvest is somewhat different. Our apple orchard is doing fairly well and in spite of the wind there has been minimal windfall. We could do with a bit more warmth and sunshine to help with ripening but we have already started picking. Of the 120 odd trees, they will be picked in three tranches and then taking off for juicing and bottling. That's the plan at least. As this is our first decent crop, who knows how that will all work out. A profession of hope, as they say.

A tree of Discovery apples
Harvested onions but lacking the presentation of a French Onion seller
Monster radishes that should have been pulled a litte earlier
Chris and Sue lending a hand

One farming element that has received wider publicity over the last few days was the ram lamb that sold for 350,000gns (approx £370,00 according to Google) at the Lanark sale on Thursday. How on earth a sheep can be worth that sort of money is beyond me and such. A friend, who farms around 1000 sheep, said to me yesterday that such extreme one-off examples give farming a bad name. Compare that to the vast majority of lambs that will be lucky to sell for more the £80, particularly given the care and attention they have received and food they have eaten. They at least have a natural life. Unlike this poor tup who will likely never see a ewe as his semen will be artificially extracted and will be so removed from a normal (sheep's) life. Does it sound a bit like the upper echelons of human extreme wealth and celebrity; wow factor but probably not a great life?

£370,000 Texel ram lamb

He's not even a handsome chap. Not in my view anyway. I've always thought Texels look slightly thuggish. The bulldogs of the sheep world. Compare that to our handsome Romney tup - who I'm pleased to say is on the road to recovery and while he hasn't fully regained his sight, he's getting there. I'm probably just biased although Texels do produce a fine leg of lamb.

Our handsome Romney tup

On that note, we'd better crack on. Alexa's on cottage changeover with another lot of happy guests just leaving and our next ones arriving this afternoon. And after morning rounds, I'm on Sunday lunch which surprise surprise, is lamb. A hearty autumnal roast but wishing for an Indian summer. After all, it is a job of hope.

Until next time.

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