As I sit down to write, we are all feeling rather jaded. Harvest has been completed for another year and so the cycle will begin again. This summer has produced the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed, and we seem to have been running at 100mph for an eternity.
For us this year harvest was uneventful. We are exceptionally fortunate to have an amazing team and for that we are grateful. Moving 12,000-plus bales is no mean feat. We are always thankful for an uneventful year indicating (bar a few punctures) that it has been relatively successful.
The dry weather has been an enormous help to all farmers, but while heat and a long period of dry weather allows you to continue uninterrupted, the disadvantage is the risk of fire. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected as well as those who have been able to help create firebreaks across the county. The fire service has certainly had its work cut out this summer. They really have been incredibly efficient and helpful.
As always, carting straw through villages attracts the ‘social media warrior’ and posts on popular social media sites have been coming thick and fast. The long dry spell with people enjoying meals outside has encouraged a new ‘brigade’ of warriors. I really do wonder where the general public thinks food comes from.
It’s only for a short period of time but causes massive inconvenience to them if they must shut the bedroom window to dull the noise or the litter (straw) that is apparently contaminating the road. We recently had a chap blockade the road in protest. After 20 minutes and still getting nowhere, many of the drivers who were held up came to criticise the gentleman and so he moved rather swiftly, with no apology to anyone or anything.
The children are all now back at school after the most incredible summer holidays, but life seemed so much easier with them home. Fish and Chip runs, ice cream deliveries, not forgetting the diesel bowser runs, caravan sleepovers, showing sheep at the Edenbridge and Oxted Pony Club Championships – Ted has been in his element. It’s no wonder that we had tantrums galore when the time for school eventually came round. We even managed to get the boys away for a couple of days at the very end of August.
Harvest can be a very stressful time for many farmers, testing the patience of saints. Long hours, lack of sleep, no social time, loneliness etc, makes it very easy to snap at people or make accusations towards others and generally feel low.
Common signs of stress are headaches, frustration, irritability, a tendency to be short tempered, impatience, forgetfulness, fatigue, withdrawing from others, overeating and difficulty sleeping. How we take care of our health during harvest is different from the rest of the year but, equally important.
One factor to consider is taking breaks to help your mind and body recharge. Don’t get overtired; take a power nap. I feel very fortunate to have all the family around, albeit not at the same time, but others are not so fortunate. Wives and partners with small children can often feel isolated, especially if they don’t live on farm. Making the effort to meet up with likeminded parents or young farmer friends that are in the same situation makes the situation easier, but it’s still a very difficult time of the year. Supporting each other is key to ensuring continued harmony.
If you feel you’d like further information please contact www.fcn.org.uk
Until next time.