Recently, I wrote a piece about loneliness on the farm in the summer. What is the reason for this loneliness?
When I worked at the newspaper, most of the summer was traditionally known as silly season-when news is thin on the ground. Mainly because of the break in Parliament but also because other people take a break too (lucky things).
It seems farming has its own silly season. There is nothing new about it. It is just the first time I have heard it called this.
Silly season encompasses the grass cutting season so any kind of silage, hay or haylege making. It also includes summer harvests from the arable farmers and it ends after the field crops when straw is made.
There is one common denominator to silly season which affects all of the above.
The great British weather in general and the great British summer in particular.
You see, silly season begins with the first spell of dry weather. There is a flurry of activity on weather apps. How long will it last? When is the rain forecast?
Then the twitching begins. Shall we mow? Has anyone else started mowing? Has the farm down the road started mowing?
In any farming community, the first to mow is like the bench mark. A sharp intake of breath will be taken by all those yet to mow and then the weather apps will be viewed again.
Now that smart phones are de regeur-yes, even for farmers, there will be a variety of apps on their phones and my farmer will ask me what my weather app says, just incase the weather in the same house in the same village may be different.
When the cutting takes place, most farmers are ‘head down’ to get it done. They are not so bothered about Old MacDonald up the road but, for hay and haylege, once the grass has been turned a few (hundred) times, talk then turns to baling.
Who has baled? Which hay in the district is the best?
When the rain comes, it is a massive panic to get everything baled in time.
Heaven forbid someone else has mowed when rain is forecast that day. Are they mad? Have they lost their mind?
The feeling I liken it all to us when you need to pull off a sticking plaster. Once you start, you have to carry on no matter how much it pains you and you are left with what is there how ever bad it is.
My farmer says the sure way to make it rain if you want it to is to attach the mower to the back of the tractor.
If you are guaranteed a hot, dry spell, you’re winning but nothing is guaranteed with the weather really and, more often than not we are chasing the sun to get it done.
Our first cut is now cut, baled and stacked in our shed. There’s no let up though. All eyes are on the grass to grow again for the second cut.
There is nothing silly about this time of year.