The very talented Helen at Everyday Stranger expressed the definitive opinion to have about Summer 2008. ‘Our English summer this year – like last year – has sucked a clown’s balls.’
And it has. It really, really has.
The combine and grain trailers keep getting stuck in the sodding mud.
We can’t even attempt some fields because, although not precipitous in themselves, they are too steep to negotiate on slippy ground. Combines are not excessively stable machines.
Hubby cheerfully announced last night that at one point he’d been sliding, sideways, toward the brook, in the dark. Arrghhh.
The grain itself is partially buggered where it has begun to chit where it stands. It is most unlikely that many of you will be munching bread or biscuits from Hairy Farmer flour this year. We have hundreds of tons of wet wheat backlogging up and the dryer takes about two hours to dry nine tons. Keeping wet and dry separate has meant we are essentially out of grainshed space. The dryer is a thirsty beast and has consumed thousands of pounds worth of fuel in short order.
Every time I stick my nose out of doors, in hopeful expectation of a baking evening walk through the golden straw stubble, the wintry blast sends me rapidly back inside. The leaves started falling off the bloody trees a week ago, FFS. It’s never been so damn soggy! This is the second year I have been deprived of my beloved harvest summer walks, and I’m properly pissed off about it.
I should point out that the above photos are courtesy of the thinly populated Farmers Weekly ‘Wreckers Yard’. No actual Hairy Farmer disasters have ever been caught on film, aside from the barn fire that I was able to surreptitiously snap from the safety of the house.
You see, it is Not Done in agriculture to immortalise your little wee accidents. Publicity is shunned. For instance, Hairy Hubby has torched at least one combine and one loadall that I can think of – although most farmers have toasted something at some point, as oil and straw and electrics are a tricky combination. He has also reversed a combine into a landrover, mightily wounding its cosmetic appearance. Now, I’m pretty sure this is not actually his full charge sheet, yet my polite enquiries for more details have just been met with inarticulate grunts and whingey tired sounds. He does not sound keen to share with you, I’m afraid. After all – there may be (gulp) another farmer reading.
Perhaps this would make more sense if I tell you that farmers take a jubilant, elated, prurient pleasure in each other’s little disasters. They will travel miles – miles – to look at another farmer’s calamity. It’s often the highlight of their year.
The hedge margins of the field by my parents’ house were once sprayed for weeds, but the chap accidentally had the nozzles along the whole sprayer boom open, instead of just the very tip. Consequently, a decorative ten-metre strip of dying yellow wheat was shortly to be seen around the entire field. I’m telling you, they came from three counties away to laugh. They parked up on the verge in their dozens. They virtually blocked Mum and Dad’s drive. And dear God, they looked happy. Farming doesn’t get sweeter than when you’re leaning over a gateway, gazing enchantedly at someone else’s mistake.
Burning machinery is slightly less of an embarrassment, consisting as it does of a hefty helping of bad luck rather than ineptitude, but nevertheless, it is still indubitably farmer-porn. We are privileged in our view here at Hairy Farmer House, and Hubby is occasionally able to spy an interesting inferno or a curious column of smoke and pile hurriedly into his car in time to be in at the actual death. He has also been known to drive randomly round the countryside late into the evening on the strength of a rumour coming through on the jungle drums that somewhere, a piece of machinery is meeting its fiery end.
Even a motionless tractor minus its operator in the middle of a field is sufficient cause to anchor up, and back up to the gateway for a closer look. ‘He’s stopped right in the middle of the row, look! He’s broken down! God, you’d think he’d have tried to make it back to the headland at least.’
So: you do not precisely broadcastyour little debâcles. Not that it matters: truth will out, and the word of your adversity will hit the village sooner or later. So if you are, say, a HFF Wifey who is pretty out of practice at driving tractors, there’s plenty of pressure not to balls it up. I avoided grain carting last year (childbirth) and this year (small appendage to look after) yet I feel that over the coming month there will be polite pressure to park the youngster with my mother and get on a tractor for a few hours. I haven’t driven one for two years, so with that and the mud, it could be compelling viewing for spectators. If I fuck up in high style, I will endeavour to quietly capture it on film. Even if Hubby shakes me down for proper cameras, he can’t confiscate my mobile phone: I shall inevitably need it to call for help when I get stuck in the sticky stuff.
If you are out there basking in record sunshine, please don’t tell me about it. I am obliged to remain here, sodden. I cannot transmigrate to where you are instead. I must learn to like our global warming.