We may just about be reaching lift off for harvest. Weeks later than last year.
Today John is finishing off hedging and starting to prep up our combine, a piece of vintage machinery when compared to the satellite navigated, computer enhanced, internet supported, information technology driven kit that you see in so many fields around us.
Hedging is now an annual task. We opted out of one of the schemes where you had to leave hedges for over three years before you cut them back.
It was unsustainable for us. Not only did the hedges become dangerously overgrown, limiting visibility on our increasingly busy lane, but it ruined the hedge-cutter and left the hedges looking dreadful.
Now with only a young annual growth to cut back, the lanes are not left littered with potentially tyre-puncturing pieces of sharp wood.
John used to spend a lot of time clearing up the flailed hedge growth off the road to avert any danger of tyre damage. Now with much softer growth, the shreddings just fall into the grass verges or hedge bottoms. Nothing goes on the lane. And you can see round the corners now instead of being met by a startled cyclist or car. Much better all round.
Approaching combining is tackled in different ways by our neighbours.
One only employs contractors who come in with the latest kit, but at a time which suits them, rather than their client. After all they may have three or four farmers all ready to go at the same time and only one machine to go out.
Then we have another friend who has just invested in a mega second hand combine that still cost thousands. Huge (to us who have only a 12 foot header) 30 foot header and all the gear one could wish for in satellite tracking etc etc.
But there has been a problem. And it has taken three call outs and three sets of laptops to sort out that the reason the corn was all dropping out the bottom of the combine was because the stone trap was not working properly.
Our stone trap which is located behind the combine bed and collects any stones that are picked up by the rotating blades and feeder, can be emptied by John operating a lever that ejects the stones, or else can be emptied manually. This had an automatic ejector, but unfortunately was automatically ejecting the corn as well as stones.
So for this season, and the next few I imagine, we shall be sticking with our combine’s relative stone age technology that does not have a problem with real stones. John can with occasional assistance service the machine himself. As we have had the combine for many, many years from virtually new he also knows most of its little idiosyncrasies.
The ones he doesn’t are discovered, and comprehensively linked to the machine’s illegitimate parentage and …....... usefulness, when it breaks down as harvest is in full swing.