Wild Ramblings: rural hush

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.

10 thoughts on “Wild Ramblings: rural hush

  1. Sounds you are having traditional small farming. Here – also in rurality – are since ten years only the biggest farming machines, and the are harvesting only for bio reactors, gaining electric energy. Sometimes i am feeling very sad about using good farmland not for food. Best wishes, Michael

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    1. It is still small-scale farming here, and nearly all grazing, with silage for fodder. The fields are too small and the land too hilly for really huge machines. Still a bit different from scythes, though.

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      1. I think this is very romantic, and just what all want to have. Oh, two years in the past i had found an old skythe from my grandfathers business, produced somehow around 1900. Mowing with a scythe is fantastic. Also a pleasure to see the neighbor,s who think I’m the Grim Reaper. xx

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  2. The rural idyll, eh! But your opening paragraph does point to times when we’re blessed to live somewhere so close to nature and so far from concrete cities of dense housing. One of Kevin’s cousins, on a small farm on the Mull of Kintyre, prayed that his booked slot on the communal combine harvester would coincide with dry weather. We were aware of him, lights on, moving relentlessly up and down his fields into the early hours of the morning. They could only come to our wedding if it fell between haying and harvest. It seems that the farmer’s life – for the actual hands-on farmer – can be grim regardless of the century.

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  3. The thing I learned, when I first moved here, was that seasons matter and life adapts to them, in ways that don’t really happen in Luton. Now I am really looking forward to muck-spreading.

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  4. Yes, I used to love the all-night tractor/combine sound in a balmy summer Norfolk. 😉 I’m too far from farming fields here in Hampshire… but the thirty baby starlings around don’t seem to recognise ‘sleep-time’!

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    1. I’d gladly have your starlings in exchange for my pheasants. A farmer across the valley has started a shoot, and the targets have all decided to move into my garden. And dig it up.

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