Last week, Her Outdoors, who pays more attention to these things than me, said it was time to harvest the field of triticale we sowed at the end of last year.
From memory, this field was prepared by pigs’ noses, horse with spike harrow, tractor with Canadienne, humans with buckets (for rocks – lots of rocks), tractor with plough, and tractor with spike harrow. It was then sown by hand, harrowed a couple of times and left for nature to do her job.
(There was actually quite a lot more to it than that.)
I’ve taken photos randomly since the planting which are labelled “cultivation” on the right for the true crop spotters among you. Here is how the field looked before we took our scythes to it:
Here’s a close up of the heads:
And this is what the field looked like after a bit of sweaty work:
Obviously, there was quite a lot more to it than that. We decided to buy a second scythe, for example, to make the job go a bit more quickly. Then we bought a peening jig to get the blades really sharp, which needed a seat making for it:
And just before we started, Her Outdoors knocked up a couple of cradles (which didn’t last long, but was worth a try):
After three mornings of scything, we’re beginning to get the hang of it. Her Outdoors is now making stooks while I finish the cutting. And we have threshing, winnowing and storing to look forward to.
While shuffling up and down the field, I’ve been feeling a strong connection with the many generations who have gone before us. I wondered briefly about the sustainability ratio of this way of farming – how much energy we are putting in compared to how much energy we will get out. But then Her Outdoors reminded me that farming allowed the human population to explode way back when. So the balance will fall heavily on the side of success.
I’m grateful for a year when we had good rainfall at a good time (unlike last year). And hopeful that the seed will be good, will not spoil, will not be eaten by mice, and all the other unknown factors we have yet to encounter.
I just want to share a perfect moment from this morning before I go. I’d been up and down the field, before sitting down to rest (and to drink quite a lot of water). I noticed that there was not a mechanical sound anywhere. Images of Van Goch’s paintings filled my head. The wind picked up briefly and delivered a sublimely timed gust to my face, and I felt a oneness with humanity down the ages. To top the moment off, I heard the sound of two horses coming up the hill.
It really doesn’t get any better than that.