OK, so when I said we were going "back to basics" recently, I wasn't quite meaning this basic:
Early Woman aka Mum was thrilled to find a new penknife whilst out walking our domesticated wolfhound. Proof positive that an early, possibly Neolithic Farmer Humph roamed this land.
But, the 'back-to-basics' jinx struck again this week, with Mum's discovery of a hand plough hidden under several decades of brambles. A one-furrow plough. So at last count, we have a one furrow, a two-furrow, two three-furrow and a four-furrow; The Evolution of the Plough, a new exhibit at Lower Dairy Farm. Join them all together and you could take on a prairie.
With the Massey 690s still out of action, Dad has worked very hard to complete the ploughing, cultivating and drilling with limited tractor power. It has been a long time coming, but finally, our last sugar beet crop is in the ground. Hurrah!Actually, last year was supposed to be the last, but our agronomist bullied Dad into signing the contract for another season. We like him really, but if he attempts the same this year, I shall be invoicing him for 20 years of tea and cake - and even when you take into account inflation, it's good cake, so he should be very afraid.
For us, sugar beet is a lot of hassle and no longer suited to small acreages like ours. British Sugar are laughing all the way to the bank with the price they pay, and frankly, the NFU should be ashamed to put their name to the "deals" they "negotiate". Negotiating with a monopoly is never going to be an easy task, but as one wise farmer put it: "They must drink in the same pub..."
And so, the sugar beet drill will be put to rest. First looked at in 1982, it had lain unused in a field for so long, sheep had eaten the electric cabling. A year later, Dad decided to buy it, rewired it and two of the units have lasted without upgrades for thirty years. Seen here riding off into the sunset for the last time...
Note our state-of-the-art geolocation system: a bag on a pylon. When the satellites fail, we'll be okay. I'm off to knap flint tools for my survivalist shelter.