Charlie Flindt: ‘Lorry Rage’ soon turns to melancholy

A two-hour drive to the West Midlands on one of the few nice days we’ve had in the past month inspired the first twinges of regret since our big lifestyle change.

Tractors were flying, sprayers were spraying and crops were all looking ready for some early spring TLC – the ones still above water, anyway.

It was enough to give me itchy fingers for a bit of spring barley calibration. A couple of hundred acres of high-speed Propino in lengthening and warming days was always my favourite arable task.

I confess I was quite melancholy when I got home.

See also: Opinion – autumn morning quiet after road racers curbed 

About the author

Charlie Flindt
Charlie Flindt is a National Trust tenant in Hampshire, now farming 40ha of recently “de-arabled” land with his wife Hazel – who still runs a livestock enterprise. He also writes books and plays in a local band.
Read more articles by Charlie Flindt

Then the phone rang. It was the lorry driver charged with taking away some of the last bits of arable machinery that we’re selling now that the landlord has found a new “farming partner” to work my old fields.

A well-known broker is in charge of the marketing operation, and his phone has been red hot with buyers wanting simple, low-hour kit.

The driver seemed to be in a bit of stew. The information that I had no crane or monster forklift with which to load had only just reached him, and he was trying to reorganise the loading order.

And he was worried about the discs’ dimensions. How heavy were they? How wide are they? “Do you want me to measure them?” I asked, half-jokingly.

Five minutes later I was clambering over them in the dusk with a tape measure. I rang him back with the good news – 2.85m, so no police authority would be needed.

I was beginning to get a bit grumpy by now. Then came the big one: “Where’s your farm?” I gave him directions, but got yet more questions in return. “Will my lorry get up that hill? Will it turn round in that yard?”

At this point “Lorry Rage” kicked off – something that hasn’t happened for years. I suggested that if he thought the job too difficult, I’d liaise with the buyer to find a driver with more of a can-do attitude.

He said that he was simply doing an advance check, and promised he’d ring from the bottom of the hill the next day at 7.30am.

I went indoors huffing and puffing. “I bet he rings at 6.30, when he’s stuck in the woods. I don’t miss farming,” I harrumphed to Hazel.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. My phone rang for final directions at 7.31, and moments later his monster machine purred its way along the top of Hinton Hill.

It took a simple arm wave to guide him into the yard, where he executed a perfect 180-degree turn and was ready to load.

Twenty minutes later, I’d gingerly backed the discs onto the front of his bed, and the early morning air was alive with the sound of ratchet straps and a bit of “right-wing” banter on the state of the world.

It was a perfect, good-natured and efficient farm job.

We parted as new best friends, and I waved him – and the discs –  off with a renewed sense of melancholy, not just because I regretted barking at him the day before, but also because I realised I’m going to miss little farming encounters like that.

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