Gerald Addicott: Arrival of autumn ploughs a new furrow on the landscape
It amazes me how quickly our summer landscape turns from the glorious gold of ripening corn, to the present autumn brown of moist fresh soil.
The main culprit of this major transformation is the plough. The aim of ploughing is to bury residues from the previous crop, (often too there is well-rotted farmyard manure added into the mix); so under they go and up comes fresh soil all ready for the new season.
For me, ploughing is the best job of the year; it's an all-absorbing task. As conditions change across the field they necessitate small adjustments and tweaks to the plough and of course a ploughman needs a good eye and a steady hand, as ploughs are only designed to work in perfectly straight lines.
Resultantly, grown men go all gooey about ploughing. There are competitions where horses, steam engines and vintage tractors pull the ploughs their operators hope will form the straightest, most perfectly inverted furrow of the day. This is ploughing as an art form, yet the same principles of ploughmanship are common to horse-drawn ploughs as they are to the modern ploughs we use on our farms today; it is just the field, the plough and the ploughman: a wonderful challenge.
Well, I say that but there are also hundreds of gulls too, all vying to devour worms exposed by the plough; or if you are very lucky indeed, your plough will be shadowed elegantly by a few majestic buzzards. Gulls and buzzards are not dining partners, either you get hundreds of squawking gulls or a handful of buzzards deigning to feast with you; they are awesome birds to watch.
Oh and finally. With all this talk of macho ploughmen, we have a ploughwoman on our farm that ploughs as good a furrow as any ploughman; she is a very good ploughperson indeed!