Harvest officially started in Norfolk with winter barley cut on July 2. Not bad considering last year they were into it just two days before.
And so the mad rush begins and, it has to be said, harvest does not tend to bring out the best in our farming souls, does it.
From being the first to start combining, whether it is fit or not, lamenting grain merchants for not having a fleet of wagons available on the side of the road so there is no need to stop, or demanding that a part for your combine gets shipped from Germany and delivered into your hands by the end of the day.
Yes, it is all a mad, mad rush, trying to force 36 hours’ work into a mere 24.
And it is only now that, as I approach the 41st harvest of my lifetime, I realise just what an extraordinary time it is.
As a boy of five I would sit on the cab-less New Holland M140 with Dad, breathing in the dust from our Halcyon barley, then play on the flat eight bales that were to be put to use for our cattle.
A few years later, we had a Claas with not only a cab but air conditioning. Oh, the luxury – until the mice got in it over the winter.
It does not matter how cool you are, the smell of dead mouse stays with you all day.
This year our 120 hectares (300 acres) will be knocked down by a Lexion with a 35ft header. It takes just over two days, if they have no problems. And before you know it, the fruits of the year’s labour are gone. All you are left with is a store full of grain (hopefully).
Of course I understand the sense of urgency, this is the culmination of a year’s work and such is the premium for quality that there is no time for sentimentality. It just needs to be over.
I guess I long for the days when harvest used to have a bit more ceremony about it.
People would stand and watch the combines and tractors and wave. Now they moan about dust getting into their houses and over their clean clothes and just-washed cars.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, harvest seemed to take weeks, not days. Of course the fog of time has left me with nothing but nostalgia but I will keep it, thanks.
I miss my days of corn carting then stacking round bales, all while listening to Atlantic 252 or the Radio 1 Roadshow live from The Green at Hunstanton with Smiley Miley’, or from some exotic resort in the Balearics, when our Case 856XL decided to get a signal.
I always enjoyed the taste of my grandmother’s scones as I skived into her kitchen for just a few minutes.
Time marches on and technology has made life easier, but some things never change; the glee of a grandchild riding shotgun in a combine cab, the smell of fresh straw and the comforting drone of your neighbour still cutting at 1am are all things that are going to be repeated for years to come.
New memories will be made. May you all have a straightforward harvest. May your sheds and grain bins runneth over and, if you can, just stop and take stock of what a marvellous time of year this really is.