Harvest is underway but, unlike last year when we basked in baking temperatures and seemingly endless dry days, this year things have returned to business-as-usual in the Scottish Borders. The combine harvester is on permanent standby, ready to leap into action when the crop is dry enough to cut. But at the time of writing, long periods of warm dry weather are proving rather elusive, and we simply have to wait for the gaps between showers.
At the moment, it is the barley which is the focus. Soon we will move onto harvesting oilseed rape and then the wheat and oat crops in September. Towards the end of August, the vining peas will be harvested which is a dramatic sight with huge pea viners and trailer teams zipping through the crop at great speed, ensuring that the peas reach the freezer plant in Eyemouth within 130 minutes. So, all in all, it is likely that visitors to Press Mains over the next few weeks will some sort of harvest activity during their stay.
Harvest is a family affair. John, who owns Press Mains, is the main combine driver. He loves the elevated view the combine provides which gives him the chance to see the crops as they are cut. He is usually accompanied by Dug, the Patterjack terrier, who likes to oversee everything from inside the cab. They are ably supported by Michael who works at Press Mains part-time, John’s daughters Alice and Gemma and other friends and neighbours who may have spare capacity to help. They drive the tractors and trailers which transport the grain from the field to the dryer and can be seen bumping up and down the farm roads when harvesting is underway. Meanwhile, farm manager Craig does all the field work behind the harvest: ploughing, drilling and establishing next year’s crops.
Meanwhile, the ewes are enjoying a bit of a holiday. Their lambs have been weaned (or spayned as they say in this part of the world) and the ewes are now out on the hill enjoying a bit of quiet time without the constant demands on their attention. Next to the cottages, the pet lambs are still enjoying lots of attention from visitors and because they were bottle-fed they are extremely friendly and very happy to pose for photos.