Thursday, 11 September 2008

Harvest Time!

Well here we are again, harvest time… While many may think that this only really affects arable farmers, it is actually one of the busiest times of year on a livestock farm as well, as the harvest has to be stored for the winter feeds and bedding. James is currently clearing the barn in preparation for 160 round bales of straw, which must be collected from the fields.

Now if you have never encountered these ‘round’ bales before then you won’t quite realise what a formidable task this actually is. Each one is over six foot in diameter and about five foot in depth and must be collected from fields up to a half-mile away. As a result both tractors are working full time. The trusty John Deere trawling back and forth with the trailer, while the not so trusty front-loading ‘Jinma’ stacks the bales ready to be picked up. Now this may sound like relatively easy work, however when one considers that the geriatric John Deere has a top speed of about walking pace, and only four bales can be taken at a time, it is actually an extremely time-consuming process.

Thankfully there have been no problems with the ‘Jinma’ yet, although judging by previous form it is only a matter of time. The John Deere on the other hand is a stalwart, although missing a door and a couple of window panes, as well as a having a speedometer that would actually make a good metronome, it is probably one of the sturdiest and most reliable tractors you could hope for.

Once the bales have been finished it will be time to take delivery of the animal feed. This job, while not as time-consuming as the bales, is much worse! Four tonnes of feed must be mixed, bagged and stacked in the barn. The mixing process is relatively easy and is all done in the lorry – a monster of a machine that resembles a cement mixer – however the bags are then filled through a chute and must be carried/dragged into the barn. Each bag, of which there are about 60, probably weighs about 12 stone…and to think there are actually people who pay to go and lift weights at the gym…

Other than these two laborious tasks, life continues as usual on the farm. The village youths have been back to swindle whatever isn’t nailed to the floor. Indeed they were almost rumbled the other day when James caught them red-handed. Sadly, a farmer Jim may be; a sprinter he is not! As a result we continue to seek a solution to this problem. The police have been involved and we have been through various options with them. The more extreme of these options, which had both mine and James’ vote and involved leaving a number of planks with nails hammered through them on the path frequented by these unwanted visitors, was not met with much enthusiasm by the officer who visited the farm; “I didn’t hear that, sir.” I believe was his response!

The piglets are growing up fast now and becoming ever more devious in their attempts to escape from the pens. Indeed I believe James is now seriously considering erecting watchtowers and searchlights in order to keep the little buggers from making a bid for freedom – perhaps they could serve two purposes by keeping the piglets in and the pikeys out!

Charlie D-H

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