Rural Delights

One of the pleasures of living in a rural area is being able to watch the developments in farm work.

Even more of a pleasure is the occasional reminder of past times that we can see.

A local farmer still harvests in the way I remember from childhood. He uses a tractor drawn reaper binder (which we all just call a binder) to cut his crop.

This then gets stood up in stooks to dry off before carting off. Even on a dull, lousy day it makes a sight which really is redolent of the 1950s.

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I saw this as I was driving to a former colleague’s house to celebrate her retirement. I do hope that, like me, she finds it a wonderful life.

Up on the hill we can see the more modern method of harvesting has been used with huge lines of crushed straw from the combine (which really is a combined harvester).

You see, those stooks still have to go through a threshing process – a labour intensive and time consuming process which may well take up some of the winter. It must cost our ‘old fashioned’ farmer a fortune.

But out of it he gets an extra valuable crop. Not only can his grains of wheat enter the food chain but his straw won’t have been crumpled up. It will emerge from the threshing machine in neat bundles, all ready for a thatcher to use on houses. So what looks old fashioned is, in fact, done for commercial reasons but I dare say the farmer is an enthusiast for old machinery as well.

That straw up on the hill will, no doubt, be baled up, stacked to what looks like an impossible height on big lorries and it will trundle down to Devon where it makes winter bedding on dairy farms. It’s a very low value product.

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