Harvest at Hill House Farm

Harvest at Hill House Farm

Posted on 29/08/2016 in Autumn

The sun is shining and harvest has started this week. The weather forecast gets checked at alarming regularity, why is it though when the weather is so crucial you can get three different outlooks in the same morning!

I've just taken lunch to the harvest field and although lots has changed in farming this is something that has not change, I remember my mother and grandmother taking meals out to the fields when we were children. Harvest has always been such an important time of the year and one that conjures up lots of happy childhood memories.

I recall misty mornings and long summer days. As a child I was much happy being on the farm than indoors and at harvest time I loved helping, although I am not sure how much help I really was!

As the grain was brought back to the farm my job was to sweep the corn into the grain pit, I was ten perhaps a bit younger and would start off very enthusiastically then get completely distracted as I collected black furry caterpillars and ladybirds from the heap of wheat or barley. Then be in mad rush to clear the grain into the hole before another load was tipped.

Jack Reynolds, who had worked for my father for many years, would keep a watchful eye on me. First thing in the morning he would let me help him; I would hook large hessian sacks onto a metal frame and open a small shutter to let corn flow in. Weighing each sack in turn, once full Jack would nimbly tie them up with baler twine, wheel them away on a sack barrow and stack them two high, swinging them onto his back with what seemed like very little effort. It must have been hard graft, the one abiding memory I have of Jack is that he always sang as he worked, often the same song, “Cigarettes and whiskey and wild wild women” I can hear him now covered in dust and calling me “my gal”!

My brother and I would help cart the straw bales from the fields. Although I was never strong enough to pitch a bale I became a dab hand at stacking them on a trailer, alternating the pattern of each layer so the load was secure. Vic and I would then lie on the top of the load looking up at the skies as we travelled back to the farm. As I grew older I learnt to drive the“little grey fergie”, the tractor that pulled the straw trailer, but not being very tall I struggled to reach the pedals and would slip the clutch testing even the most secure load of straw, and I am sure every ones patience, as the tractor lurched forward!

Then at tea time Mum would appear with a basket of sandwiches, cake and bottles of tea and everyone stopped. Yes, I know it sounds a bit Enid Blyton like, and in many ways it was; We were not so aware of the dangers as we are today, the machinery was smaller, there were more people working on the land and everyone one seemed to have more time, whether they did or not I am not sure.

Things may have moved on, but I am pleased to say a piece of cake and a cup of tea at tea time still has a place in a busy harvest field, and as harvest starts that wonderful smell of freshly cut straw on a warm day still makes me smile and brings back fond memories.