The Ploughman Cometh

Nobody has ever looked forward to a visit from the ploughman as much as me.

It seems like an eternity since I got approval from the tenant to take a field and put it under game cover, and during that time I’ve been getting more and more excited about what is essentially just a bog-standard agricultural procedure. I’m excited because of the links between black grouse and arable farming, as well as the fact that turning the soil is sure to bring about a regeneration for all sorts of birds and mammals. It’s not that I expect a three acre plot of game cover to single handedly turn the fortunes of black grouse around in Galloway, but it’s the first in a series of steps in the right direction.

I’ve looked at that hill every day for three years and sometimes feel totally deflated by just how little my efforts have produced. I’ve got no doubt that I’ve made a difference, but the changes I have been working on are on a landscape scale and will be slow to materialise. I’ve got no problem with bashing on at the job, but how fantastic it was today to see that the tractor man had found a spare moment to plough the field inside the main gate. In one fell swoop, an entire field has been turned upside down. Nobody can say that the change isn’t striking and noticeable, and over the course of this summer, as turnips and kale grow upwards, I’ll finally get to see my work improving the farm day by day. It was a miserable soaking wet day (as shown in the picture) and I’m still struggling with the ‘flu, but I was grinning from ear to ear when I saw the field, if for no other reason than because, on a farm where steady decay and collapse are characterisistic features, something positive has happened.

The tractor man will be back with a ton of lime for the field next week, and he will hopefully broadcast the seed on it then. We’ve been getting some pretty heavy frosts in the past few days, so it wouldn’t hurt if he was to leave it for a little longer.


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