Sunday, 21 September 2008

An unusual sound

Every time I go outside the house here in Cornwall, I notice it. The unusual sound that is. It is the sound of a combine harvester being driven relentlessly up and down (or is it round and round?) the neighbouring fields, together with its attendant tractors and trailers which relieve it of its precious cargo. My uncle (who knows about these things) tells me that the harvest is usually gathered in during July, but following the appalling wet weather, the last few glorious days have dried the crop to the point at which it can be gathered in. Winter wheat is planted in October, and so no sooner with the harvest be complete than the tractors and ploughs will be deployed to prepare for the sowing of next years crop.

We have much to be thankful for, not least the supply of food, which for all but a few unfortunate souls is pretty plentiful. It is only when you see one of these amazing machines hard at work that you realise the technology that is built into it. Much of the cereal crop has been beaten more or less horizontal by the wind and the rain, but a skilled operator can get the combine to lift, cut and thresh just about all of the crop in a way that would have been impossible in the days of doing it all by hand. It all happens so quickly too. In a bygone age the work would have taken familes some weeks to complete with each stage depending on the weather.

If I ruled the world, all children from urban schools would spend a day watching the harvest so that there is a little more appreciation of what goes into producing our daily bread.

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