The cattle throve well in the weeks of dry, bright and cool weather we had until mid-June.

Granted, the fields had a poorly managed, mob-grazed look about them, but cattle love such weather and besides, topping would make it worse. But the arrival of the rain and a blast around with the Major Cyclone topper has freshened everything up.

Meal feeding has begun earlier than usual, not least because we’re locked up and it makes rounding the cattle up for testing easier.

But there’s always one lunatic who won’t be fooled – just one look at him and he’ll be off like a rocket-propelled grenade around the field intent on spooking the others.

Not much fun, and the arrival of a second person drives them totally ballistic.

Such weather also suited the crops. The wheat was well into flowering before the weather changed and it kept septoria, which looked like exploding in early May, under control.

But the yield monitor on the combine will spend too much time hovering at zero for overall field averages to be any good. It’s a great pity the rising prices have slipped.


The spring cereals could be a pleasant surprise. The oats and beans are promising and our April-sown barley fields have tillered well, greatly helped by early cycocel, and are thick and short.

It’s entirely possible that they could yield OK but I’d like to see them a little taller. Ultra-short barley is difficult to feed into the header, and there’s the problem of customers fist-fighting over a straw shortage.

The grass silage was baled at the end of the fine weather after a good wilt. The scent of drying grass always brings back warm memories of silage seasons long past when we’d spend weeks harvesting.

We had three models of Taarup 602s, each one worse than the last, and if I’d bought a decent Pottinger harvester we might still be doing some hire work today.

We didn’t side-fill or anything cool like that, towing the single-axle Eureka trailers behind the harvester, which I could couple in my sleep.

The Ford 7600

Last week hauling 20 bales up the long climb to the yard with the Fendt 718 while the speed tumbled from 52 to 30kmph, brought me back to the Ford 7600 drawing silage in about 1979.

Back then I’d pull off in seventh gear from the crossroads half a mile downhill and build up momentum, provided I didn’t meet a car coming down. If I did, I was b*****ed.

There would be some synchromesh going up the gears but nothing changing down, with only the Dual Power as a last resort as the revs plummet.

Starting the climb proper, with the engine screaming at 2400rpm and black smoke pumping out of the exhaust, it was deafening in the non-Q-cab. Feck it anyhow, Thomas had overloaded the trailer while waiting for me.

With the revs dropping quicker than a buzzard unto a rat, I shifted the Dual Power and gain 500 rpm. But it’s a short-lived respite.

Normally I’d make it to the top and credibility. But the wet load becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Fifty yards off the top and the engine’s about to stall. Nothing for it but drop the clutch, hit the brakes and start again in a lower gear.

Paddy ‘I-Often-Carried-Two-Batteries-Across-a-Ploughed-Field’ Mahon and the other men on the pit would see the carry-on.

At teatime I’d get a slagging about double-heading with the Ford 5000. And to add to my humiliation, the stuffed load would stick under the canopy of the tipped trailer lifting the 7600’s rear wheels a very dangly 6 foot off the ground.

Two years later the Ford 7600 blew the turbo on the hill and now 48 years old she’s still here.