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Harvest has gone into extra time

The Young Farmer column, by Joe Rabicano

Times have changed greatly since I last wrote, when I went to work donning a T-shirt and shorts, now the unofficial uniform consists of overalls and a rain coat to go over the top, as us farmers do battle in what looks like another very wet Autumn.

The harvest of cereals concluded for the farmers I work for in mid September, a bit later than usual, but for many others continued even into October, about a month later than ideal.

The Young Farmer column
The Young Farmer column

It seemed nobody would turn of the big tap in the sky, and still hasn’t been able to even now while we are in the middle of potato and sugar beet season. The consistent downpours cause problems for a lot of reasons, with cereals it makes moisture levels too high and even worse flattens crops to the ground, making the hard to combine.

It turns fields of potatoes and beet into sticky oozing mites, full of ruts, making them the ideal place to get well and truly stuck.

Even worse than all that, every bit of rain at the moment inflames the great fear that was created last year, when the was a small shower about the first week of October which continued steadily into the following March.

Farmers’ cropping plans were scrapped, and business plans had to be entirely changed, and this was even before the pandemic.

Farmers did go into this autumn with some more confidence. Surely you can’t have two record breaking wet years in a row, that’s impossible isn’t it? Sadly I’m beginning to think not, but hoping I get proved wrong soon.

Regardless, as with any harvest, long hours are still part and parcel of every day, what with there being a constant race against potential weather.

Of course, I love my job, but there’s no doubt that long hours alone do start to take there toll after a while.

One of the reasons I’ve always made a big effort to socialise when possible and there are, many others in my situation hence the success of Young Farmers Clubs up and down the country.

It’s the reason that it does annoy me a little when people say that the constantly changing lockdown measures surely have no effect on rural communities, where everyone isolates anyway.

On the contrary, as with everyone it has had, and is having a massive impact.Particularly as studies show the dreadful extent of mental health problems in the rural sector.

People need to consider the far-reaching impact locking around the countryside, and that’s before we even get onto the destruction of many local tourism businesses and the loss of specific food contracts.

There’s been plenty of talk on the news about the effects of the pandemic on the arts, students, gyms and sport to name a few, and rightly so, but so far little has been said about farmers who have that rather important job of producing food to keep the country going .

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