Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Rocks and rolls.

Today was one of those days when you try something for the very first time, succeed and fall in love with it. Today was my first time ploughing a field alone.

The Farmer's leg is still firmly out of action so I am trying my best to carry his workload; it seemed a good day to swallow any fears about hitching the plough and turning over the little field which has seen no chemicals or artificial fertilizers for many years.
The Farmer muttered a few instructions, pointed to some levers, dials and switches in the tractor then, rather wisely, hobbled off to a safe distance to observe.

The feeling of turning over tired looking old pasture into rich, brown fat dumplings of earth is indescribable. It is a sensory experience, the musky scent of the soil, the hidden crumbly brown earth lying neatly in a row, birds appearing from nowhere to pull rudely disturbed worms and insects, the human contortion of driving forward whilst looking backwards..... a blissful delight of a task.
I'll admit to having The Extreme Fear a couple of times when the tractor hit a hidden dip or two, the wheels lifted clean off the ground and the steering suited itself, sliding worryingly towards the fence or the plough steadfastly refusing to budge an unseen boulder thus grinding everything to a halt despite the screaming complaints of the tractor's huge engine.
 The ploughwoman rocking and rolling, whooping with sheer delight and terror, whilst the earth herself became exposed to the crisp, winter air with a sleepy reluctance.

The ground will rest a while and be broken up by frost, rain and sun. When the time is right, it will be harrowed to a fine tilth then planted with a meadow mix of grasses and wild flowers which will hopefully encourage insects and birds to the little field. It will be cut for hay and provide the sheep with feed in the winter months.
The sleepy field will soon transform into a riot of colour and a haven for wildlife.

On days like these, this isn't work, although sweat was broken.
This is sheer, unbridled joy.


  1. Sheerly lovely..i could see you there.

  2. A truly earthy experience. :)

  3. Wow. How proud of yourself you must be. Brilliant.

  4. What a perfect start to a new year !

  5. Nice one! Look forward to hearing more like this. I once heard that the plough hitting a boulder can be very dangerous - is that right or does modern technology protect adequately?


  6. Thank you, Neil!

    My husband told me that the farmer (who lived in the farm behind our farm a generation ago) was ploughing using a pair of horses. The plough hit a boulder, reared up and killed the man outright.

    Nowadays, the ploughperson would be protected by the tractor cab plus the ploughs have springs and hydraulics which cope with any violent reaction to a hidden boulder. Sometimes, a rock will stick in the plough and the only thing to shift it is human brute force and a big hammer - the farmer's universal tool kit!

    I am learning as I go but the best advice I have been given is to work slowly and look in front and behind you as you work. If you hit a hidden monster of a stone, the plough either lifts automatically or just stops.
    On rare occasions, an absolute beast of a stone is unearthed and it would be shifted using heavy machinery then blown up by explosives specialists (or in our case, used as a garden feature:)

    1. That's interesting, thanks GO. I also remember when being told that hitting a stone can be dangerous that I was surprised that, in a field probably ploughed every year for the last 200 or so years, there are still big stones to hit!