The Farming Column: after long hard work, the harvest supper

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Stephen Prest continues his farming column. He wrote the following in mid-November and it appeared in the December Triangle.

In spite of huge changes in the last few decades, farming remains central to our community here. If you farm near Slingsby and have a tale to tell, email us at  admin@slingsbyvillage.co.uk

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All is safely gathered in,

Ere the winter storms begin.  (Words of a traditional harvest hymn)

Thankfully the harvest is complete apart from a few root crops still to harvest.  In many ways it was a good harvest with the third highest UK wheat crop on record. Most crops were harvested in dry conditions which helps reduce drying costs. Sadly prices are still very low.

After harvest many farmers and their staff go out to celebrate with a  harvest supper.

I joined Stuart Prest and his staff for a good meal at The Grapes Inn, Slingsby, quite a lively evening and much appreciated after long hours of hard work [see photo]. Most of the winter cereals have already been drilled in preparation for next years harvest and with very mild and moist conditions are growing vigorously.

Autumn brings the start of the hunting and shooting season.  We run a shooting syndicate round Slingsby, mainly on Castle Howard Estate land.  A group of us meet once a fortnight on Saturdays and provided the weather is nice we have an enjoyable day.  We mainly shoot pheasants and the odd vermin, sadly partridge numbers are very low mainly due to a succession of bad breeding seasons and an increase in predators which destroy their nests. Some people find it difficult to appreciate that shooting and conservation can work well together. On the Slingsby shoot we have 5 acres of a wild bird cover crop which is a mixture of spring cereals, millet and linseed.  It will produce about 10 tonnes of seeds which will feed thousands of birds, large and small over the winter months as well as many small mammals.  We have also grown some maize and deer, badgers and pheasants all enjoy eating the grain on the cob. I have also planted several small woodland plantations which are good for all wild animals. Eating game seems to be coming back into fashion again  promoted by many celebrity chefs. I must admit I just love a roast pheasant with all the trimmings!

Stephen Prest

[Photo shows Stuart Prest’s Harvest Supper in The Grapes]