The Countryside About Us - August 1994

posted 31 Jul 2014, 03:52 by James Mansell   [ updated 31 Jul 2014, 03:52 ]
By now the oilseed rape will have been harvested. It is usually “cut” or “combined” by the combine harvester’s own knives and gobbled up into the machines insatiable “innards”. Less frequently the crop is “swathed” by a different machine into neat rows rather earlier than if it was combined, and then threshed by the combine progressing along the prepared rows. The black rapeseed, which contains some 40% of its weight in oil, is very “fluid”. The least gap or hole in the transporting trailer will result in a steady trickle of lost seed en route to the store or crusher. Some trailers are “taped” to make them absolutely waste proof. Ultimately the processed seed will finish up either in your kitchen as cooking oil, a low fat spread or in your car’s tank as fuel for the engine! So the great event of the farming year gets underway, with little respite for farmer or farm worker until “all is safely gathered in”. This does not mean the end of the long days in the fields as preparation for next year’s harvest gets underway almost immediately.

Courage is a quality to be admired. Add knowledge to courage and you have a useful combination! Well anyway those were my thoughts as I watched, one evening, from a distance I hasten to add, a Cretingham beekeeper capture a swarm of wild bees. The swarm was rather high up gathered on the branch of a tree. Thanks to the ingenuity of the farmer in whose field this drama was unfolding, the “bee man” was raised aloft in the bucket of the tractor’s foreloader. Once close enough to the swarm the branch was gently trimmed and finally cut off. The bees continued to buzz but cling on like a large bunch of black grapes as he was gently, very, I might add, lowered to the ground. A mixture of sugar and water was sprinkled into an empty hive, and with one deft jerk the swarm was tipped in and the hive quickly closed. There was a smile from the beekeeper as if to say, “don’t worry, I am in control” and a look of relief on the faces of everyone else.

Roger Sykes