I hesitate to say this, bearing in mind what some parts of the country have gone through, but a spell of wet days in August is quite handy.
(It’s also not at all unusual, despite what the weather muppets would have you believe – I spent many August days in my childhood keeping well clear of a furious father as rain pelted down on the crops.)
It gives you a chance to indulge in what might be termed Maintenance for Man and Machine (or is that an album by Kraftwerk?).
There are jobs on the little New Holland combine that are long overdue: cleaning the inside of the windscreen, for a start.
Hitting the spot
Then there’s the proper take-your-time blow-out of the engine air filter – I blasted nearly 200g of dust out of it. (I really must get out more.)
There are the 150-hour greasing jobs to do – the “G-spot” nipples that are visited so rarely that they have to be found using the book for guidance.
See also: Read more from Charlie Flindt
It’s also worth having another go at tracking down the reel variator grease nipple, but bearing in mind that not once in 23 years of New Holland TC ownership have I found it, I’m not overly confident. It’s there somewhere – apparently.
The cab could do with a clean-out too – all those plastic water bottles and empty paracetamol boxes. I leave the tube of sting-relief cream in, even though it “expired” years ago.
And that blunt knife section nearest the wobble box – now’s the time to drive out the special “long” fixing bolts, lose them in the stubble, find them after 20 minutes, and finally and oh-so-carefully, with some serious rigger gloves, install a new razor-sharp triangle.
With the combine ready to go, it’s time for a bit of TLC for myself.
There’s a vertebra at the base of my back which went Awol one morning – I’d love to say it happened while throwing a bale around, or struggling manfully in the tractor barn, but (“too much info” alert) it went “boing” in the middle of my, ahem, bathroom routine.
A couple of days in complete spasm ended with a much-welcome visit to Jane the Magic Physio, who persuaded the offending bit of bone back into place and then gossiped for half an hour.
There was even time for a haircut. “You working today?” No, I’m having my haircut. “Going on holiday soon?” No need – every day is a holiday at Manor Farm.
Mind you, it must be hell trying to make conversation with a grumpy farmer who is using the mirror to look over his shoulder for a break in the weather.
With perfect timing, the Aga went out – and nothing makes a wet August more miserable than a cold, damp kitchen.
Much to my surprise, I had all the bits I needed in the spares box (wicks, brass elbow, filter), so half a day was spent dismantling and shotblasting, reassembling and relighting.
Come to think of it, lifting that monster cast iron barrel out might be more to blame for initiating the back spasm. I think a winch will be in order for next time.
The weather muppets are confident that dry weather is imminent and, by the time you read this, the combines will be roaring again through crops that might – or might not – have survived the deluge.
The remaining 45 acres of spring barley has been bashed about a bit, so I’ll leave the lifters on to salvage as many low-hanging heads as possible. At least they’ll be easy to spot through the crystal-clear windscreen.