The “working for grouse” project took a huge leap of progress this afternoon when I took receipt of a 37 year old David Brown 996 tractor. The nature of my work on the hill is on such a small/remote/awkward/experimental scale that trying to find contractors who are willing to co-operate is not an easy task. After having been provoked into a situation of near madness by the failure of the usual contractor to disk the game cover before the silage cutting started, it became apparent that some independence was required. After a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing, a decent machine was found in Dumfries to fit the bill.
I don’t expect that the “new” tractor will be able to perform miracles, but it will allow me to plant my own game covers (this year’s cover STILL isn’t in…), spray where I want to spray and mow the rushes in the manner that I choose – (I find it appallingly difficult to find tractor drivers who will cut rushes and marginal moorland in anything other than precisely straight lines). I have a limited array of implements but will soon add to these to create a catalogue of suitable flails, harrows, spreaders and sprayers. The big bonus to this tractor is that it was sold with dual wheels, opening up a whole new world of opportunities in the damper, boggier reaches of the Chayne. Once they are fitted, we’re really going places.
Although it doesn’t look like much just now, I’m quite convinced that every farmland conservation project requires some heavy machinery. There are certainly more glamorous and capable tractors in the world, but this is certainly a start.