Man, Machine and Nature… Combining by Brindley Hosken

Posted on: 5th February 2013 No Comments

Here’s another of Brindley’s tales of farming near Manaccan.

One August day some thirty summers ago, I was chosen to drive the combine for the day. I filled it up with diesel and drove out to the Griddle where a lovely crop of barley was waiting for me. I set the combine up and then dropped my eight foot six inch header into the crop and started combining. I was THE MAN. Soon I had combined several rounds of the field and started back and forth across the field, leaving a golden rank of straw to mark my progress. As the morning wore on, the baler turned up and started baling the straw.

As the knife cut through the crop and it fell on the sacrificial alter of the combine bed and was transported away to Armageddon the dust rose up and with the heat of the sun on the back of my neck, I could feel the sweat trickling down my neck and creating white rivulets in my blackened face. Man, machine and nature as one.

I finished another strip and then weaved my way between the bales. Swinging the combine around to begin another strip I heard an almighty BANG. I looked to my left where the unloading auger should have been but it was not there, it was flopping against the combine side with a piece of cast iron dangling from it. I had caught it on a tree in the hedge. As Craig Grevil Horwood might have put it, “disaaaaster, darling”.

I drove into the yard to give my uncles the good news, where my worth as a member of the human race was called into question. Eventually we got hold of our local blacksmith, John Pearce, and he came out and after a struggle managed to weld the cast iron back in place. I often wonder if the character assassination he heard that day was what drove him to change his vocation and come back as the Rev John Pearce.

As for myself, I cannot remember if I was allowed back on the combine or was banished to shovel grain for the rest of the day as penance. I suspect it was the second option.

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