Late September last year we were lucky to have a whole week of Indian Summer weather, this while we were staying in a cottage on a Warwickshire farm cum livery stables. It was blissful. Lots of dewy, well fenced paddocks, and many handsome horses to chat with.
It was the strangest thing – to look out on the nightscape behind the house where there are no roads or houses as far as the Edge, which itself drops a thousand feet through near vertical woodland to farm fields below on the Shropshire flatlands, and see what looked like searchlights moving doggedly through the darkness. The sight induces a frisson of fear. Iron Curtain watch towers spring to mind; H.G. Wells and War of the Worlds: are these Martian invaders patrolling the hinterland? Have the Thought Police hacked into my anti-establishment cogitations and are now tracking me down?
Of course a second later, common sense regained, I knew exactly what was going on, though it was still surprising – this spot of nocturnal November farming, presumably intent on finishing the job before the next round of deluge. The two tractors had been out working on Townsend Meadow since early afternoon. One tractor was ploughing. I watched it moving up and down the field, the glint of steel blades, the rig periodically disappearing from view over the brow of the hill. The other tractor was working back and forth across the ploughed-in wheat stubble, it equipped with high-tech agri-gear fore and aft – (and I’m assuming) seed drilling and then harrowing. I’ve yet to discover what crop was being sown. Doubtless there will be shoots any time now.
But in the meantime, on my most-days slither and slide along the path to the allotment, I’m astonished how very spirit-lowering is the lustreless expanse of darkly sodden earth after months of pale and textured gold. No more taking short cuts across the field or fossicking for pot shards and clay pipe bits either. I’ve also noticed that the tenant who currently has the field in hand, has reduced the strip of uncultivated headland between our home boundaries and the crop by a good 2 or 3 metres. We always understood that the headland was there as a flash-flood reducing measure, to say nothing of providing a swath of bio-diversity. Only time and heavy rainstorms will reveal the consequences or not of this little development.
The day before ploughing and drilling – 3rd November.
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
It doesn’t take much to keep us Farrells amused, or should that be amoosed. Anyway, since the highland cattle took up residence in the Cutlins meadow, it has added a whole new dimension to popping to the High Street for some milk. I can report that Mammy and infant MacMoo who featured in earlier posts, have been moved to pastures new, and now we have only four junior MacMoos with whom to pass the time of day. But they are pretty obliging when it comes to a photo shoot, although all in all, they would much rather eat hay. Just like us, then, it seems they are easily pleased.
I mentioned that the wheat was being swept off the field on Tuesday afternoon. And as I’m actually rather impressed by seeing combine harvesters in action, and the dust they make, I took a few photos from the bedroom window. But when I looked at them later on screen, I was amused to see a shapely pair of legs nudged up against the combine driver’s jeans. Aaaah. Greater love hath no young woman than to spend the day out harvesting with her lad.
And for those who also have a yen for combine harvesters…
To my eye these Highland Cattle definitely have a frayed look. Their shaggy coats are of course designed to fend off the bitter rain-filled gales of their West of Scotland homeland. They are also one of Britain’s oldest breeds, and all-round tough guys. They are long-lived; they thrive on the poorest grazing, and cows produce up to 15 calves in their lifetime. This sturdy durability also explains why the breed has been exported world-wide – even to the barren uplands of the Andes. This bunch, however, is having a very cushy life in Much Wenlock, both weather- and food-wise. It’s nice to come upon them on our walks around the town’s surrounding fields. You never know where they will be next, which is a cause of much a-moos-ement on the part of the Team Leader aka Graham, who has formed a deep affection for the great, hairy beasties. (We simple souls are easily pleased out here in the shires.)
For more info: The Highland Cattle Society