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How big can they get?

Some hold-ups are annoying, unnecessary and downright frustrating, but if you insist on going for a ride through the countryside at this time of the year, you have to expect this from time to time……..and if you are in no hurry, and you engage with the farmer, it can be an informative and entertaining interlude in the ride……as this was.

The front-end of the combine (reaper/gatherer??) was so big, it had to be dismantled and separated from its enormous ‘parent’ and transported individually to the next field in line for harvesting. I asked the farmer the size of his combine: ‘Thirty five feet’, he told me……’but it’s not the biggest….which is currently forty feet’. I asked him if he had contracted it in: ‘No no, that’s mine….bought it last year….this is it’s second harvest……cost me £400,000. I’ll give it another year before I have to change it’.

I was trying to compute these enormous figures when I asked him when he would start to see a profitable return on his investment. ‘Profit? Profit? Nah, we farmers never talk about profit……..we’re farmers, after all’, he said, with a broad grin on his face…….

We stood and watched as this enormous beast began to swallow swathes of the field of rapeseed…….. simply astonishing.

….and the first hibernal wink

Forgive me for repeating myself (only if you are one of the few habitual, persistent readers of these ramblings….) but cyclists who think that the three cavernous pockets on the back of their cycling tops are intended for stuffing spare tubes and patches, mini-pump, energy snacks, discarded bits of clothing…….well, they have no idea of their untapped potential.

Cav using the full potential of the back pockets.....and much more!

Cav using the full potential of the back pockets…..and much more!

I’m a natural forager. If I pass an opportunity for picking up anything worthwhile along the road, I endeavour to stuff it into one of my back pockets. In the past I’ve come home with books, high-viz tops, gloves…..even a hand drill. And many is the time when the glint of a coin has caught my attention, the largest denomination being £2, on the way into the centre of London.

Today, the first day of winter, I was stopped in my tracks by food. Yes, free food…..lying unloved and ignored by the roadside. During the autumn, I try to fill the freezer with blackberries and apples, but it is unusual to be picking up good quality windfalls this late, and in December. By this point, they are usually lying half eaten by the birds, and rotting on the verges and in the ditches.

This little harvest has now been cooked, mixed with blackberries, and prepared for the freezer…..to supplement the hibernal diet when things get tough……IMAG1006