Plough

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Home, Parish of Kirkgunzeon – 15/3/20

The time came to fold in the turnips and start again. I reached for the plough and began the long reset process which has been repeated these last three years.

My neighbours say that I would be better doing this job with disc harrows. Ploughing is a hard way to do a simple job, particularly since the ground is already crumbly and workable. I would love to cut corners, but I don’t have disc harrows and my spring cultivator has shown an incredible talent for digging up huge boulders which would otherwise have lain sleeping underground. So ploughing it is, and the soil crumbles up behind me like cake mix because there’s no turf or stubble to hold it together.

There is an additional bonus to ploughing which also merits a mention, because dedicated readers will remember that in hauling turnips over the winter, we managed to get a trailer stuck. The recovery process was long and arduous, and it led to the creation of some huge ruts and hollows which would not look out of place on the battlefield at Passchendaele. Ploughing has ironed out the creases from a long, wet winter and now there is a moment to ponder what comes next.

I would like to put this field back into grass, but I’m tempted by the idea of sowing it with oats again and seeding grass underneath that crop. That would give me some really nice wholecrop sileage in July, and it should mean that grass will spring into life when the main harvest has been cut and hauled away. I’m conscious that in cropping this field, most of its life is spent lying idle. When I grew oats, the field was “working” for less than five months of the year. When I grew turnips, I drew out much the same. That all led to long “waste” fallow periods which were good for wildlife, but seemed to underperform for agriculture. By sowing two crops at once, I will hopefully extend the productive shelf-life for this land and make the best of my resources in 2020. I’m still undecided on this, but it does seem a sensible course of action.

Thanks (as always) go to Rob, a long-term reader of this blog who was sufficiently moved by my ambitious plans to give me a mighty two-furrow Massey Fergusson plough back in 2017. I hope he will be pleased to hear that it’s still going strong!

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