A loud noise just after breakfast time - a noise of machinery - which I just couldn't identify. I wandered round the farm yard trying to find the direction from which it came. And then I saw it. The farmer opposite had started to combine his field of wheat.
I couldn't believe my eyes as it seemed to me to be nowhere near ripe enough. But as the farmer came down the lane with Tess on return from their morning walk, he enlightened me.
These days, if the field of wheat/barley is intended to be used for whole crop (more of that in a minute) then it doesn't want to be ripe, it still needs to be soft.
Up here in The Dales there are no arable farms. In the old days most farms were small (80 acres or thereabouts) but as they have been sold off so they have been amalgamated into larger units and round us there are now two or three really large farms. But none of them are arable farms. The usual 'crop' up here is either a milking herd (for how much longer with the falling price of milk?), a beef herd, or a flock of sheep.
Silage is made in huge quantities (grass which, if put into a clamp rather than into round bales, is left to 'pickle'.)
This wheat or barley which is harvested early - whole crop - is chopped up, loaded into large trailers and tipped into the silage clamps along with the grass. These layers form the basis of winter feed for milking and beef hers. Our cattle are inside for at least six months of the year.
Just occasionally a field is harvested in the conventional way (usually winter barley up here) and when this happens the crop is mostly sold to local feed merchants who either roll it or chop it to mix in with other things to make cattle feed/cake for winter.
What with harvesting, silaging and the like, trying to get anywhere by road is quite a job - getting past these great trailers and tractors on our narrow winding roads (plus all the holiday traffic which clogs them in August anyway) makes movement from A to B a bit of a trial. But farming must go on while the weather holds.
Speaking of which, today has not been as good as promised and whilst it has not actually rained there is a large amount of cloud and very little breeze, so at present the farmer has three fields lying waiting to be baled into hay and it is too soft. I asked him what would happen if he baled it while it was soft and apparently it just heats up and becomes dangerous.
So fingers crossed for another fine day tomorrow.