A mound of sugar beet at last! Plus about half has already been collected in a rapid and ultra-efficient operation courtesy of some excellent timing by the teams at Brooks' and Hogger's. I have recovered myself from the foetal position, the broken result of shovelling and sweeping the road by hand to help keep road users safe. It's interesting, I didn't realise my "Caution - Mud on Road" signs actually said "Accelerate NOW! Then test your brakes". Fortunately, the stretch of road was not too long and was navigated far more skilfully than I could have managed in a machine half the size. And the result, a glowing mound of beet safely in and on it's way to the British Sugar factory at Bury St Edmunds(fingers crossed) before too much frost or the factory breaking down.
If the weather suits, you have to cover the heap with tarpaulins. I recently realised that for years, my benchmark for new clothing is whether I could clamber up a heap of icy sugar beet dragging a tarpaulin whilst maintaining a degree of modesty. Fortunately, the sugar beet growers of Essex aren't known for their racy outfits on the farm and stilettoes do crush the beet so.
Without deterioration each sugar beet apparently yields around 3 teaspoons of sugar. This fact may go down well with Humbug and the sweet-toothed cows, but it massively depressed chief grower Humph and resulted in severe but thank goodness temporary sugar rationing (Silver Spoon of course) in the Taylor household.
But, there are benefits to growing sugar beet including membership of "The Golden Beet Club". "The what?" I hear you ask. Well, I have no clue. Membership is, of course, exclusive (like the Bullingdon of beet growers) and requires the wearing of a miniature golden beet-shaped lapel badge that arrived one day in the post and was the pride and joy of my badge collection as a child. Here's hoping I haven't broken some secret Masonic code in revealing this club to the world.
However, in the absence of any communication in the past decade (I don't think they can revoke membership...), we'll have to stick to celebrating our annual finding of the red beet contest. Located from the heap of beet by Andrew Copsey and beautifully modelled here by Humph, I can reveal it does indeed taste like proper beetroot - if a little sweeter and somewhat gritty. Golden Beet Club eat your heart out!
For now however, the big machinery has left, and tomorrow we're clearing a path through the remaining heap to get the bullocks into their winter housing. Bullocks are far more nimble than I am heading up and over a beet heap, so I'm hoping for best behaviour.
Finally and most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS to the lovely James and Louise, Dorset's newest farm tenants! A very wise decision by the council and an excellent addition to Dorset society (although I'd watch out for the Rogers - dreadful bores). We wish you all the best in setting up your new farm and discovering what is inside "the unsurveyed room"...