Some are only just getting going, a lot are waiting for a dry spell to crack on and others are officially finished. But never mind how many acres you’ve cut, here are the real signs that harvest is happening.
1 Farmer’s sun tan
Outdoors and sun-kissed, you’ve turned a honey colour. A natural tan that city dwellers would pay a fortune to acquire artificially on a sunbed. Only one problem: it only covers your face, your forearms and possibly the bottom half of your legs.
Checking. Constantly. On the radio, the TV or your phone. It’s a default – the moment you wake up, the moment before you finally go to sleep (if you do). You know the forecast off by heart for the coming two weeks. By the hour.
3 Next door
Your ears are pricked, alert for the hum of a neighbour’s combine. Are they starting before you? Have they gone too early? Are they behind you? Starting too late?
The combine cab might be well sealed, but the moment you open the door you’re in a dust storm. Barley awns down the back of your neck and grain in your socks are par for the course, but you’ll itch in places you didn’t know could itch.
5 Man’s best friend
You spend more time with your faithful, four-legged friend than your other half. In the truck, in the tractor or in the combine, your dog will be at your side constantly. When you find yourself explaining to said animal about how wheat prices are unsustainably low, you know you’ve been starved of human company for too long…
6 No thank you
Your default reply to invitations becomes “No Thank You” (actually, it becomes “Do these people not realise it’s £#*#%! harvest!”). Lunches, dinners, birthdays, christenings, you name it, you’re not going. The sole time you might half wish for rain is if there’s a wedding – especially if it’s a free bar.
7 Pub yields
Your grasp on reality weakens. Specifically, in one particular aspect – when it comes to weight. Yields move mysteriously upwards. Simply a case of rounding up, isn’t it? Besides, where’s the harm in a little exaggeration. See also Point 3: it goes without saying your yields will be 25% above theirs.
8 Extra help
Hell bent on securing as much overtime as humanely possible, inexhaustibly energetic (ah, the joys of youth), phenomenally helpful but occasionally catastrophically clumsy, the harvest student returns. Of course, armed with the latest knowledge, they’ll know far more than you…
You’ve lost all track of time – probably judging the hour by the radio show playing. You don’t really need to know anyway because you’re going to be working every hour God sends and Mother Nature allows until harvest is in.
10 Music, maestro
You’ll know the lyrics to every current hit song as a result of hours of radio listening. You’ll become an expert on world affairs (or if local radio’s your bag, where exactly the roadworks are on the local B road). You’ll listen to the radio so much you’ll even know the words to the adverts off by heart.
If you’re male, you stop shaving and haircuts can wait (think rural wino). If you’re female, you begin to look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards with a bird’s nest in your hair (think rural wino).
Your bad language rises exponentially. Instead of uttering an expletive every 14 minutes, it’s every four. Impatient motorists and weather forecasters elicit a few. But the really bad ones are sparked by breakdowns and rain.
The majority of your meals come wrapped in tin foil, in a plastic box. If you’re lucky, you get fish and chips brought to the field. And as for proper grub, the microwave is your second best friend after your pooch. Reheat, sleep, harvest, repeat.