Ah the joys of taking a midsummer stroll up along my writing space/lane at six in the morning. The air like silk, the sky pure blue, the dew sparkling and all the peace and quiet of the countryside, broken only by the trills and twitters of the birds in the hedgerows, a faint rustle of mice perhaps in the undergrowth.
And perhaps there should be a few other sounds – the swish of scythes through long grass, the clip clop of horses, and perhaps a little hymn-singing in the annual ritual of communal hay-making.
What I actually hear, of course, from before first to last light, is the non-stop clamour of silaging in the surrounding fields.
Farmers and contractors don’t do nine to five, certainly not in the summer. When they see a window of opportunity, they go for it. A tractor on the other side of the hedge thrashes and rumbles its way round the field, the noise gradually subsiding to a mosquito whine that lets you think, maybe the irritating insect has flown out of the window. But no, it’s coming back to clatter and grind. Never ever ending.
When they have finished, the embarrassed fields are left flaunting a golden Brazilian, while silage wagons, piled high with cut grass, pulled by monster tractors, turn out onto the road, invariably just ahead of a line of traffic gearing up, or rather down, to tackle the hill at the end of my lane.
The roar of the tractors is complimented by expletives streaming from drivers’ windows, cursing the fact that the hill is too steep, the road too winding and the tractors too big, for anyone to pass this side of Cardigan. Add a couple of caravans to the mix, threatening to grind to a complete halt and the air is bluer than the sky. The end of my lane is an excellent place to stand and study the infinite variations of human nature, from rage, through resignation, to despair.
One good thing about silage season: the red kites really love it. It’s an All You Can Eat buffet for them.