Making hay while the summer sun still shines

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
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YOU will struggle to find a more quintessential English countryside scene than this beautifully photographed picture of a lone farmer out in his field making hay near Grassington.

This lush verdant landscape is a familiar sight to anyone who spends time pootling around Yorkshire’s hills and vales during the summer months.

We’re lucky to have this bounty on our doorstep and it’s perhaps easy to forget that we only have such a wonderful countryside thanks to the tireless work and dedication of our farmers and all those guardians who help manage the land.

At this time of year our countryside looks every inch the green and pleasant land we have come to know and love. For farmers, though, it’s a period of hard work and a chance to start reaping what they have sown.

As the colours of the leaves on the trees and hedgerows start to darken they will be out in force in their combines over the coming weeks bringing in the harvest.

This might sound pretty straightforward, especially given the fact that technology has made it less of a back-breaking job compared to what it once was. But ask anyone who works the land and they will doubtless tell you that harvests rarely run smoothly.

The main challenge being that most of the factors influencing whether they get a bumper harvest or not are out of their control.

The crops are exposed to the elements and any weather extremes – either too wet, or too dry – can have an adverse effect on the crops and suddenly turn a good harvest into a bad one.

If the crop becomes too wet it can be hit by outbreaks of pests or diseases in the plants which can quickly spread. While if the crop is too dry it can ripen too quickly or even just wither away.

At the moment, though, there are rich pickings to be had. Late summer fruits including early-ripening apples, blackberries and damsons are coming into season and can either be enjoyed now or saved for a winter pie.

Summer’s last hurrah may be just around the corner but we still have the fruits of its labour to look forward to.

Technical details Nikon D3s, 70-200mm lens 500th @11 100ISO.

Pic: Tony Johnson