heap of wheat in grain store

Harvest 2021

straw lying in swath in wheat stubble field

The barley and wheat harvest is underway, albeit in fits and starts. A spell of prolonged sunshine would be good, but the weather forecast doesn’t look too promising, much like the harvest yields and quality. Heigh Ho! Such is farming.

An intermittent service may be resumed here. Partly, because it’s harvest and I’ve posted a photo every harvest since 2011 here or on the original farm blog and it seems strange not to do the same again this year and partly because a few blogs have reappeared recently, which have provided a little spark of inspiration.


Harvest 2018

Harvest 2018 cracks in ground

Harvest has almost finished at Slamseys. This year has been fast and furious with long, hot days and dry grain with only a short break when rain stopped play. Once the wheat has been cut, the cracks in the ground become even more apparent.

Our new house is in the farmyard, so instead of being slightly cushioned from the hustle and bustle as we were in the farmhouse, we’re right in the middle now, which I enjoy.

Harvest 2018 unloading trailers

 

It means that the background noise to the day is tractors rushing into the yard, reversing into the grain store to unload the grain and the reverberating bang of the tailgates shutting.

Harvest 2018 loading lorries

 

I have a birds-eye view of the lorries being loaded with grain.

 

Harvest 2018 straw in Grove Field

 

We’re only a few paces walk from the grain store, so it’s easy to drop off bottles of lemon squash and packed meals throughout the day, though I’m not averse to wandering down the fields to drop off supplies. For the first time in many years, we’re selling straw to a local livestock farmer instead of chopping the straw and incorporating it in the soil.

Harvest is a frenetic time of year. It’s the culmination of the past year’s work and the weather, which can make or break harvest, is out of our control. This year’s hot, dry summer has meant a swift and early harvest and though yields are down, we haven’t had to dry any grain and there’s been no frustrating stop, start, weather watching of a damp harvest.

Harvest 2018 sun behind trees

 

In all the hustle and bustle of harvest, it’s good to stop for a moment. Looking across stubble fields in the fading daylight, knowing that most of the crop is safely in the grain store, makes us realise how lucky we are and to be grateful for the good things in our lives.


harvest 2014

combine harvester in great forest field

combining wheat in Great Forest field

 

Harvest is now in full swing. The first of the wheat was combined over the weekend and today it’s being loaded into lorries to be taken to the central co-operative grain store. Larger, more efficient machinery means that the combine can cut four times the acreage in a day than we cut ten years ago so that the combine is now working here for days at a time, rather than weeks. These days are spread over a few weeks and in the gap until the rest of the wheat ripens, the hedges and verges around the already harvested fields will be cut back and cultivations will begin for next year’s crops.

 

 

 
If you listen to The Archers, you may be under the impression that during harvest farmers have time to sit in the pub having a pint with their leisurely meal. If only. All too often, lunch and supper are eaten on tractors as drivers wait on the field headland watching for the flashing light on the combine to indicate that the tank is full and signal to them to drive alongside so that it can unload into the trailer. Balanced meals with at least  five a day fruit and vegetables are cast aside in favour of food that can be eaten one-handed while driving across a rough field without making hands sticky and can rattle around in the tractor cab all day without turning to mush. Beautifully presented bento boxes decoratively laid out with delicate fish and salads are definitely not on the menu. Instead, solid, old-fashioned food seems to fit the bill and some days as I pack up pork pies with a tomato and a hard-boiled egg, it seems like stepping back thirty years and needs only a bottle of fizzy pop or ginger beer to complete the picture.

 

 

packing raspberry crumble cake for evening cold boxes

packing raspberry crumble cake for evening cold boxes

 
Soft Essex huffers are more popular than chewy sourdough and while the raspberries are plentiful, I’ve been making Raspberry Crumble cake to slip into evening coldboxes when energy and concentration levels dip. Slightly sharp, juicy raspberries contrast with chunks of white chocolate, flaked almonds and a buttery crumble topping to make a cake that can be cut into sizeable chunks and won’t fall apart like a delicate sponge cake.

Click here for the Raspberry Crumble cake recipe.

Click here to find out how to make Essex Huffers


on the farm in July

Great Forest field

Great Forest field *

On the farm, all is calm. Today.  Weather reports are checked every couple of hours, the barns have been swept and wheel nuts checked on trailers. All working parts on anything that moves have been cleaned with the air line or greased or banged with a large hammer.

Little Forest field

Little Forest field

The fields have gradually changed in colour from green to gold and the heads of wheat are bowing over, a sure sign that the wheat will soon be ready to harvest. Tomorrow, all being well, the combine should start cutting the oilseed rape. Life will move up a gear as tractors and trailers bring the oilseed rape back along the road that only last week was filled with bicycles as Le Tour de France passed through. Then there should be a short break before the wheat harvest starts.

hazelnuts ripening

The hazelnuts are ripening in the hedges around the farm. It’s a good year for these, though I know that the squirrels will take most of them before they’re ripen, so I may have to be content with photos.

gloucestershire old spots pigs

The two pigs press their noses to the fence every time someone walks by, in the hope they may get fed extra rations. They’re particularly dirty at the moment as they’ve been wallowing in the muddy water to keep cool.

Meanwhile, Morris the fox terrier would happily spend all day jumping into the pond. A very sensible pastime on a hot day like today.

 

* You can see this view photographed each month [here]