Saturation

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.

[shivers]

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7 Responses

  1. If I said ‘arseholes to the lot of it’ in swear-y solidarity would that help?

    It’s shite here too m’dear. Only difference being we expect it at this time of year, even if the shops are inexplicably suddenly full of strappy summer dresses. 🙂

    J

  2. My dear cousin to your northern border told me once that she only knew it was summer when the rain turned warm but it sounds like your current summer might have blown that theory out of the water. Or the mud.

    Yes, bollocks to cold and wet. As Geodhe has already pointed out, we are also shivering in our thermals over here. Hope your weather comes good in time for a walk.
    And for the wheat, of course.

  3. Bloody weather. Damn it and damn it to hell.

    We had one disastrous winter in Italy that killed all our 2000 several-hundred-year-old olive trees. They literally burst open in the severe frost and snow (MINUS 25 C). Olive farmers went for miles looking for trees worse hit than their own. In the snow. Just to look.

    And then there was the year when the olives were just coming back, ten years later, when it RAINED all autumn and if you pick and store wet olives they rot and we had to just sit there and watch our crop ripen and ripen and blacken and become worthless, interspersed with frenzied burst of picking in the mud. I slipped in said mud and twisted my knee. My mother fell off a ladder. One of oue pickers knocked himself out cold on a low branch. And the neighbouring farmers would pretty much line our drive-way to WATCH. Farmers are fuelled by schadenfreude.

  4. Everywhere I’ve been in this country and Ireland this year has featured similar images to the one at the top of this post. Fields all over the country now have a muddy mess where there used to be a gateway!

  5. Why does this make me want to be a farmer?

  6. Why, oh why can you not live in Dorset or something, thus saying “track-uuur” and the like? That would be awesome.

    Oh, and that upside down tractor reminds me of the sad little horshoe crab I saw at the aquarium the other day. He had flipped onto his back and created a right problem for himself. Poor dear. I must go weep softly into my hankie now.

  7. I thought of you and Helen both as we slogged our way through 12 days of rain while running through Scotland and parts of England while celebrating my 45th birthday and our 26th wedding anniversary. We didn’t mind the rain or the very cold weather, it was in the 40’s while we were on the Isle of Skye, which is a bit cold, even for me, but it must be a pain for farmers. However we are very unhappy to have arrived home just in time to deal with another hurricane coming our way, the last one was just 4 weeks ago. It gets very old. Off to get the hurricane shutters out!

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