Treasure trove of goodies at the farm sale

By Tria Stebbing.
Along with the hot sunny weather comes the usual myriad of activities for the farmer with a bit of time on his hands.
Top of the list in our house is the farm sale, which I have discovered does not mean buying a farm, instead it is an assortment of otherwise unusable bits of farm machinery which will be useful to someone. These ‘lots’ are laid out in a farmer’s field and a catalogue put together which any self-respecting farmer will then spend hours drooling over.
When sale day arrives, it is the norm to arrive early to register and get your bidding number before standing around by the catering van, munching on a bacon roll while discussing the preferred lots. Anything is sold from disused oil cans right up to shepherd’s huts and tractors and more.
By the time the auctioneer is ready to start, small clumps of farming folk will be hanging around their coveted prize holding their bidding number. Bidding can get quite frantic at times with some crafty moves pulled by those who know their stuff. The sale can take all day to get through the mass of items and only the most stoic will last to the end.
So, I was not surprised when a new topper appeared after the last sale. Him outdoors had been after one for a while to complement the rest of the fleet, the mower, the turner, the baler and the rest of the essential equipment. We decided this year not to cut our own fields for hay so left the sheep for longer than usual to graze it right down to nothing, which left a field that needed ‘topping’.
Topping is when a mower or similar is used to remove the aerial part of a crop to prevent the seed formation and distribution into the soil. Our field looked downright scruffy with its random bits of long grass and thistle sticking up, old and more worryingly brown and dull. The new topper made light work of the field and in no time at all it was tidy again, albeit brown and tidy!
Now we just wait for the rain as the field needs to rejuvenate and restore itself to peak condition ready to take the ewes back in the Autumn. The trees are heavy with acorns this year and it has been a bumper start to the blackberry season. I am waiting patiently for the sloes to appear and in anticipation of a bumper year am busy collecting vessels in which to put my own countryside bounty. The small bales have been well received by some already and for us, this is clearly the way forward.

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