Scything, weeding in the rain and new season lamb...

Emma Heseltine - 01 July 2012

Today we are having a scything course at Wallace Field. The Monday gang and myself are being taught the finer points of slicing and dicing with the grim reaper's favourite implement. First we have to assemble the scythe which is no mean feat. Blade on and handles attached without poking a neighbours eye out we then get a lesson in how to wield it correctly. We must have looked like an extremely strange thai-chi class, swivelling and dipping and swaying and turning in dock field. Then we got to test them out, boy are these things sharp! Going against your natural instinct to swing it wildly the trick is to push it into the ground with your right hand to get as closer cut as possible, and then do the swivel twisty movement we have been taught. It’s surprisingly easy and we are soon in the rhythm slicing our way through the long grass. Its peaceful, the swish of the blade, the fall of the grass, or in my case thistles as I’ve spotted a big patch that requires my attention. I’m quite surprised at how much we get done, how little it hurts (not bending = very good) and how high my tolerance for it is, I’m keen to keep going when everyone else has got tired. It’s considerably quieter and more fuel efficient than the thistle cutter or the strimmer and easier than the sickle. I don’t think I’ll be volunteering to do all our hay with it this summer (when it eventually stops raining) but could see doing a small field, or even happily destroying some weeds with it. It’s a beautiful tool.

We have decided that today is a veg garden day. We have been neglecting the plot a little recently and the weeds are starting to get a hold so its time to fight back. Unfortunately it decides to absolutely throw it down all day. Still I get into the broad beans and sort them out, putting a little fence around them to stop them escaping (or something) then attack the weeds in the onions. As its wet they come out really easily so its pretty satisfying. As the thunder and lightening roll in I venture into the currant jungle that is the fruit cages to tackle the goose grass which is trying to strangle everything. I must have pulled out three barrow loads when the boss comes looking for me with a promise of tea and scones by the aga, who could resist? As soon as I pack in for the day to go visit the creatures at Aglionby the sun comes out.

We are weighing the lambs at Wallace Field with the Halo guys. They have been doing very well and in fact several are now over 45kg so are ready to go to the abattoir. It only seems like five minutes ago when they were tiny but now they are hulking great lambs, the first of the new season’s lamb coming up…

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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