from Edward Gallia, Nether Cerne Farms, and Advice on Farming and the Rural Environment
At last harvest has been completed. We completed the final field yesterday – one of beans destined (we hope) for north Africa, the near and middle east, where they soak them, grind them up, and make into a paste / dahl called “ful madammas”. As far as I can make out, it is what Egyptian and Sudanese folk really miss when out of their countries.
For us, harvest started with the rapeseed and progressed through barley and into wheat. The rapeseed harvest started on 23rd July so it has stretched for a period of 7 weeks. There have been quiet gaps within this period, usually enforced by rain but sometimes waiting for crops to ripen. But when it has been busy, it has been very busy. To give an indication, one person chalked up 280 hours worked in a four week period.
There are broadly 3 roles for the harvesting:
- Driving the combine to harvest the crop and separate the grain from the plant. This requires huge concentration for long periods.
- Driving the tractor and trailer full of grain from the field with the combine back to the farmyard. This is the stop-start job and involves a fair bit of bumping about on farm tracks. To give an idea, a trailer of grain is worth in the order of £1300.
- Operating the grain store and drier if the grain needs to be dried. The grain has to kept below a certain moisture content (and temperature) in order to prevent it deteriorating in the store, and also because the sales contracts specify a certain maximum moisture. This is a dusty job, and the most physically demanding.
A beer (made from barley) and a day or two off are well deserved indeed. But only one or two days off as we need to prepare the fields for sowing the seeds for harvest 2016.