Deluge makes for happy ducks if not anyone else

Mrs Downs Diary

Mrs Downs Diary

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Misquoting and mistranslating both Louis XV and Del Boy Trotter’s, ‘Aprés moi le déluge’, we have certainly had our fill of déluges. It has been tipping it down. Sunshine one hour. Heavens opened the next. The ducks, all differences settled now, are a happy, although sadly depleted flock.

They were nearly even more depleted yesterday when Fizz decided she had had enough of their habit of coming to pinch her dog biscuits and drink from her water bowl. One of them has a sadly bedraggled aspect after a swift nip... but only a nip, not the carnage of a few weeks ago.

Yesterday lunchtime we moved our combine into the last field of wheat by the usual cavalcade of Landrover with flashing lights in front to warn other road users to move off the road into the lay-bys.

Better that than risk their wing mirrors being whipped off. The lumbering combine followed behind. Fortunately everyone around us is used to behemoths on the road at this time of year and obligingly dives for the hedge.

But nothing much has happened since then; in fact John has spent today putting the last few loads of wheat through the dryer before tipping up in the big grain store. The wheat was just slightly above 15% moisture, only just, but the dryer takes it down to the correct moisture content for storage.

Before all the rain however, our neighbour called to report a near calamity he had had when the corn was too dry and a downpour would have been most welcome.

Into the last three acres of wheat behind their farmstead, his mobile rang out in the combine cab.

“Can you see behind you?” said the voice of his nephew, who was driving tractor and trailer to collect the corn, “The straw is on fire behind you.” Panic.

It turned out a bearing had become red hot and dropped off the combine. Straight onto tinder dry chopped straw.

“I changed direction away from the line of straw, “ he said, “and luckily could drive out of the field, onto the road and into the yard. I parked the combine up away from the buildings in case she was hot and got onto another tractor with a set of discs.”

Meanwhile a combine working alongside him, driven by a contractor, tried to cut corn ahead of the blaze, but had to leave the field too as by now the flames were tractor high. By discing around the blaze, which had taken hold in the remaing three acres of corn, the fire was contained, although our friend’s nephew got the hairs on his legs and eyebrows singed getting too close to the flames with a fire extinguisher. And the three acres were lost.

Throughout this our friend’s son had been with him in the combine and then watched the fire containment strategies executed.

“ Is it always as exciting as this when you are combining?” He wanted to know. I think you can guess the reply he received.