Tuesday, 23 June 2020


My gardener has just arrived to cut my lawns and is already complaining about the humidity although the sun isn't shining.   Even before he starts there is a delicious smell of cut grass because the field behind my house is having its second crop silage cut this morning.   And it looks to be a good crop judging by the amount of grass that is shooting out of the top of the machine and into the following trailer.

The farms around here are all quite large; small family-owned farms, where the ownership goes back several generations, are often just not financially viable any more.   And when one becomes empty a neighbouring farmer or a syndicate will buy the land and add it to their existing land and thus does a lot of farm history disappear for ever.   Our 'Peacocks'(which presumably belonged to a Mr Peacock in the distant past) is now part of a larger farm and the name will just die out.

Does it matter?   Probably not.   The whole way and manner of farming has disappeared as with so many ways of life.  Gone are the days when if you passed a field there would be half a dozen men working it, whatever the crop.   If it was wet they would still be working, sacking draped across their shoulders, working in all weathers and going home to their farm cottage, usually a 'tied' cottage, to a wife and a brood of children and usually a good hearty meal on the table and a good fire in the grate because tied cottages usually had good gardens and often a pig sty and a chicken run.  But they were still 'tied' - the job went with the cottage.

Now one big, spanking, expensive machine does    the work that half a dozen men did and often the tied cottages have been renovated and let as holiday cottages, or sold and joined together to make one lovely country cottage. And most people (if they even glance in the direction of the land) are people who have come into villages from outside and don't know anything about the old lives.  And no longer is it just one crop of hay feed, where the farmer has to keep his eye on the weather and judge exactly when it is right to cut - now with modern methods of feeding two, three or even four crops of silage can be reaped each year.
And nobody wants to work on the farm any more - too hard work.

And so this morning I can sit in the window and watch D mowing my grass with a modern mower and the farmer's sole employee mowing the field beyond for the second time this year.   The old times may well sound romantic in the poetry of the day and look romantic in a Constable painting
but the truth is nobody wants to do back-breaking work if it is unnecessary do they?   Nostalgia is all very well but best viewed from the comfort of one's arm chair.


Derek Faulkner said...

Down here on Sheppey two crops of silage is something farmers dream of. Once the first crop is cut these days, lack of rain and hot sunshine combine to leave the fields a dry yellow. On the subject of no one wanting to do the farm work that is more than obvious when farmers try and get unemployed British people to pick crops of fruit and vegetables and end up employing people from abroad.
Very hot and sunny here and due to get hotter.

Bovey Belle said...

Due to the dry and hot spring we had, local farmers are only just starting to do a silage crop. I say local - I mean in and around our valley in walking distance. Perhaps if we drove up the valley towards Llandeilo we would see more cut fields.

Very hot and muggy here today - my daughter did her walk without me and went a bit further than had I been with her, about 5 miles. I am up to 3 so far, returning to fitness.

The dairy farm next door is run by the son who now owns it, his dad (semi retired), a woman from Estonia who milks the cows, and a lovely chap from Hungary who also helps with the cows (the cows are happy because he is so quiet and gentle with them). There's a chap who comes in to help out sometimes too. No huge fields and one-man farms round here.

I recall being told about other times though - probably over a century ago, by an old boy, who was probably telling his father's story, of homeless farm workers coming to beg for work - happy for sleeping in a dry barn and some fat-bacon to feed them, plus a small pittance of a wage. They had what they stood up in. Just as well those times are behind us.

Rachel Phillips said...

Bitter inheritance disputes often surround family farms.

JayCee said...

Farms here are all still small, family run. Hard work for them struggling to make a decent profit when competing with cheaper imports in the supermarkets.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

The other day while on a walk in the local area I stopped and talked for a while with one of the few small farmers around here. He's quite a character with long hair sticking out from under his cap, a jacket tied up with string and a rich country accent. After a while he said "Well, I better be getting on. I need to do some work on me computer, before me agronomist gets here". He wasn't joking either; things move on even in the countryside.

Marjorie said...

We farm with no luck finding help. DH has cut down the herd but since we mob graze for the good of the animals and the land, it is very labour intensive. We do own a lot of land so rarely cut a second crop. It is hard life, no holidays or outings together to town. My outings are based on farm needs, not mine. Our sons picked professions not friendly to farming. The eldest does mineral exploration south of the Arctic Circle, the middle one is a published author and college instructor, and the youngest a computer engineer.

Terra said...

It is sad to see the small farms go, the same thing is happening here in the USA. It is down to economics of course and as you say, hard work does not appeal to many people. We had an apple farm and it was hard finding apple pickers. My son who is a truck driver says not many 20 year olds want to drive trucks, they find it is hard work and would rather sit at a desk.

wherethejourneytakesme said...

My friend lived on a small farm when I was young and I spent a lot of my days playing in the farmyard and fields of corn - never inside in the farmhouse that was not allowed - if it rained we squeezed into a shed with the cows or horses.

The Weaver of Grass said...

There are a lot of fascinating stories hidden away here in your answers.

Granny Sue said...

Here in the USA too, the small farms are disappearing. Not so much where I live, because the land is too hilly to be profitable for farming.

Heather said...

How right you are. We see the 'old' days through rose tinted spectacles unless we have a true knowledge of farming. I still think it is sad that small farms are no longer viable and that so many have either gone under or had to diversify.

Red said...

Same thing has happened to agriculture here. At his peak Dad had about 1000 acres . Now his grandsons farm about 8000 acres each. It's nuts!

the veg artist said...

Farming was back-breaking work, even in my childhood. One of my uncles was killed in an accident, another almost lost a foot. Yet another hated cows - he milked them every day of his life from before he left school. One of my cousins was brave enough to tell his father that he wanted to sell the family farm. His father replied that he wished he'd been brave enough to do the same!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks everyone. Too hot here to write any more this evening.

Joanne Noragon said...

A sweet and sympathetic discourse. The past is always folded into the present.

lynney62 said...

Hello Weave....I have followed your blog for several years now, found you through Rachel's blog.. live in the US, in Illinois, a small rural town, mostly made up of farmers and small businesses...I was very sad when I read of the passing of your dog, Tess. I was just wondering if you have ever considered adopting a kitty....no need for daily walks or outdoor potty needs...I had a cat for about 12 years and he was wonderful company....just wondering and wanted to ask. Hope all is well with you....my grass was mowed today also by my very nice "lawn guy" :) Take care...

Cro Magnon said...

I'm saddened to say that many fields around me are left fallow, and simply mowed every so often to keep the grass down; not unlike our own paddocks. My nearest neighbour now grows a hectare or so of Sunflowers, and harvests a large area of Chestnut trees in autumn; otherwise he has holiday cottages. He often looks depressed!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hello Lynney - nice to hear from you. I love cats but sadly my road is quite busy and one or two cats have been killed on it - I couldn't bear that. I still miss Tess but with the Covid restrictions in place here and also the state of my mobility now I think I am best alone. I have lots of friends and my son nearby. Do call again.

Thanks to you all for your contribution.

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