Friday, August 22, 2008

I Miss My Combine Harvester


This weekend, weather permitting, I hope to be driving a combine harvester on my father’s farm near Saffron Walden. I suspect that there are many farmers around the country who, like him, are extremely concerned by the terrible weather we have been having and its effect on yields. There’s nothing quite like driving a combine harvester. I know it sounds stupid, but you can become quite attached to them. I was quite emotional when in the mid 1990s my father pensioned off an old Massey Ferguson combine (pic above) which we had bought in 1966. In fact I was furious. I knew every inch of that old hulk like the back of my hand and I still miss it!

The other thing I miss about harvest is stubble burning. My Dad still hates John Gummer with a passion for banning it in the early 1990s!

And yes, that's me, aged 21 wearing my I Love Maggie T Shirt. Hunky, eh?

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

God is aging cruel!

Anonymous said...

No Wurzel jokes please!

Anonymous said...

the farmers are are bedrock - and we should make an exception for them - we need to better subsidise them for their work. I know it smaks of state socialism - but so what, farming is too important to be let to the market. If we had a tory government they would understand that - and farmers would get better subsidies. The socialists want to subsidise mining and nuclear power - they are idiots!

Rich Johnston said...

"If you believe the politicians, we have a broken society, in which the courage and morals of young people have been sapped by welfarism and political correctness.

"And if you look at what is happening at the Beijing Olympics, you can see what piffle that is." - Boris Johnson

sousbois said...

Hmmm. Not so sure about the subsidies.

Around here, deep in the heart of nowhere, we have to be very careful not to walk on certain parts of the land around the village.

Its supposed to be "set aside" and to be totally unused. If we were to walk on it, it would be "in use", and therefore the farmer might stop being paid for doing nothing at all.

Not convinced that paying a farmer to ask me to keep clear of some nettles is really the best use of anyone's money..

Newmania said...

That picture again! Well I do not believe your Hardy-esque peasant life. I suspect you were actually the darling of your mother’s exquisite salon and sat with the Persian cats scoffing the Mallon GlacĂ© .
This picture is one of series commissioned for “Boy world”,the next one has you in a Fireman`s outfit.
Iain Dale, Casanova , Boswell. Fantasists and fabulists they keep the punters entertained , that’s all we can say.

MrChippy said...

I hope your moisture percentage is right!!!

The Lakelander said...

Was it this early love of agricultural machinery that prompted you to buy Audis in later life?

Only joking....

Anonymous said...

EM Forster comes to mind. did you model yourself on Scudder? or perhaps your are more of a Maurice figure. Did the farm hands take you?!.

judith said...

Newmania, sweetheart, it's maRRon glace.

And Gummer's been a worthless, stuck-up little plonker since the old man met him whilst Gummer was working as an ad-space salesman on a trade mag in the early 60s.

Desperate Dan said...

Did you used to sit up there singing the Worzels classic: I've Got a Brand new Combine Harvester?

Paul J said...

Iain

You have given me a terrible dilemma!! It has been a (genuine) life long ambition of Alexandra's to drive/ride in a combine harvester..... if I mention that you do, you can, and you will she will hound me until the next harvest to prevail upon you .....
Paul

Paul J said...

Iain

You have given me a terrible dilemma!! It has been a (genuine) life long ambition of Alexandra's to drive/ride in a combine harvester..... if I mention that you do, you can, and you will she will hound me until the next harvest to prevail upon you .....
Paul

Anonymous said...

judith said...
"Newmania, sweetheart, it's maRRon glace."

Newmania's wife is Asian. Many Asians would pronounce it as Mallon.

Theo said...

It keeps bloody raining here. Only managed 20mins today.

Desperate Dan said...

This being a bank holiday weekend you'll have the added pleasure of driving very, very slowly along narrow roads pretending to be oblivious to the tailback you're causing.

Anonymous said...

Iain

Tell your Dad to sell the farm ASAP.

Commodity prices will not stay this high for much longer. Farm land price in the UK have been driven up by three factors in recent years:

1.Irish farmers coming over to spend money they earned selling off land for the Irish building boom;

2. City bonus money using farmland as an IHT shelter; and

3. the global commodity price rises.

My Dad is an ex farmer and he says that in the 1930s the export of grain from E. Europe swamped the UK market to th epoint that farmers left land derelict - it was worthless. This year Russia has had a massive harvest and next year the rest of thr world will too with all the extra planting.

Sell now and your brother (who I recall still works with your Dad) can go on holiday for 3 years and come back and buy a farm half price free of tax.

P.S I miss driving a combine harvester too and ploughing dead straight furrows. Now I just sit in fornt of a computer at home all day trading commodities and stocks - I can't say its more fun but I make a lot more money and work a lot less hard.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, my Dad would never sell his farm. It's our family home!

Not sure where you got the idea have I a brother from. If I do, it is news to me - and my mother!

Gallimaufry said...

How very sporting of your Father to have a reason for hating Gummer. For most people it's instinctive.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Bit of a dilemma where I live (In the middle of barley fields) Everything for miles is waterlogged. When they do get the stuff harvested they will have to dry it, which increases the cost. So it will be another year of high grain prices by the look of it.

Still, the Combine looks wonderful. Maybe it went to a good home.

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale said 5:51 PM

"Anonymous, my Dad would never sell his farm. It's our family home!

Not sure where you got the idea have I a brother from. If I do, it is news to me - and my mother!"

WHAT - you mean you left home without making provision for someone to help your Dad run the place! I suppose I did so I can't criticise. I left in much the same circumstance as you. I remember it was pretty heart rending for him and me when I told him I didn't want to be a farmer.

Just can't think where I got the idea you had a brother.

Ah ha, I know where! Here is your last year post on the subject of harvesting and you mention SISTERS. I knew I was right!

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/06/if-youre-from-health-safety-look-away.html

Conand said...

Iain was this shot before or after you turned into Peter Mandelson?

Anonymous said...

Hunky? More like - Phwoooor!

A red Massey Ferguson old type combine harvester wearing a potato sack on the end of the discharge auger - get in there!

anonaLon said...

The second picture looks like a scene out of Apocalypse Now, reshot in the Suffolk countryside!

Newmania said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cassandra said...

Just looking at that pic took me back to my childhood growing up in the fens!
I can see the big red/green harvesters(masseys were red and john Deeres were green)and remember riding on them a few times, they seemed so huge at the time and the smell was wonderful! I marvelled at the way the tractor and trailer could match the harvester as it offloaded, again the smell, the warmth, the exitement, it all came back so clearly!
Harvest festival and fairs, John Deere tractors, stubble burning, miles and miles of fields stretching to the wash, potatoes, beets, wheat, wood pidgeons, coypus(till they were wiped out), blackberrying, freeezing cold winds straight from the steppes and on to us, Vulcan bombers and lightnings all round! Bloody hell! You dont know what you miss untill it all comes back in a flash, Oh happy days eh?
Lincolnshire always had a strong and unique smell about it that I never found anywhere else(been around the globe and nowhere smells like the fens), I passed through a couple of years ago and it still had that same odour!
Maggie the milk snatcher, taking our little daily bottle of milk(cow!)and metrication invading the school and the empire map being taken down, the little pot bellied stove in the tiny schoolhouse glowing red on a cold winter morning, all coming back now eh?
Oooh well, a world lost never to be seen again?
Thanks for the memories!

Newmania said...

Marron Glace then ( I thought I remembered it from a Saki story). I can clear up the business of Iain`s brother. Actually he has four and they all used to sit along a five bar gate sucking straw and playing the banjo.

Ba da ding ding ding dinh ding dang deeeeng.

( He aint right that boy)

tapestry said...

Watch the dust. Many a combine harvester driver ended up coughing up their lungs in old age - just to spoil the party.

Corn is a commodity buy right now, according to my financial adviser.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Coming from Boston, as I do, Cassandra's evocation of Linconshire is spot on. The "smell" bit puzzled me for minute, but I think he is right. There is something primeval about the smell; grassy is the nearest I can recall, maybe with marshy overtones. It was a rite of passage that upon getting your driver's licence, you would borrow your dad's car and hurtle, hell for leather along the very straight, very long fenland roads, and veer off into a dyke.

Anonymous said...

Must say I am gobsmacked. You obviously know that luxury cars are just tarted up versions of the mass line. Why did you salivate over some such crap when you know all about Massey Fergusons?

I have just reluctantly bit the bullet and bought a Chinese tractor at one third the price of a Fergy.

electro-kevin said...

I thought Maggie Filbin was rather hot too, Iain.

cassandra said...

Wrinkled Weasel,

Aaaahhh yes, those dykes(not the farm girls)! Yamaha FS1e,Honda SS50,Suxuki SP50,Yamaha RD250,Suzuki X7,Kawasaki triples Oh yes they all ended up in the dykes along with their riders, mondoay morning always saw the local recovery man hauling away smashed up jap bikes! Aaah the memories!
The riders wouldnt be dancing to Slade or mud for a while!

Dave H. said...

Your anti-greenbelt writer would call that an 'industrialised farming machine'.

No matter to him that it puts the bread on the table. Or for the Labour party, who regard a field of wheat with a similar abhorrence for its lack of public access and biodiversity (and it's probably owned by a Tory). Maybe, but it's completely peaceful for nearly all the year and skylarks like it.

Personally, I miss the strange colour of the sun round stubble burning time. Damned townies.

(Boringfartnote: doubtless Iain already knows this, Mangelwurzel means 'little root' in German.)

ibid said...

sorry, just saw the second picture. Did you two actually volunteer to be in the Whicker man?

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Why did they ban stubble burning? What's against it?

Anonymous said...

Trumpeter Lanfried said...
"Why did they ban stubble burning? What's against it?"

1. Can be a fire hazard.
2. Kills wildlife.
3. The smoke can be a nuisance to people living near or driving near the site (yes, farmers tried to wait until the wind was in a favorable direction but couldn't allow for changes in wind direction after lighting the stubble).

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Anon @10.33 PM: Thanks. Enough said. Bring back stubble burning!