What to look for in June
While we have been celebrating the Platinum Jubilee and thinking about the way things have changed since Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, we might have a look at what farming in Cornwall was like 70 years ago and how it has changed since then.
In the 1950s tractors were much smaller and didn’t have cabs. This tractor is pulling a reaping machine that is cutting the wheat and binding it up into stooks or bundles. The familiar spire of Truro Cathedral is in the background.
Machines to make the harvesting cereal crops quicker and more efficient were coming in to use in the 1950s, like this early combine harvester. It must have been a hot and dusty job working that machine.
Cornwall had many more dairy farms back then, with smaller herds of cows than nowadays. The Guernsey breed of cow was very popular for the rich creamy milk it produces. Nowadays most Cornish herds are black and white Friesian-Holstein cows.
In the 1950s milk was still collected from farms in metal churns which the farmer left on a churn stand at the end of the farm lane. The height of the stand made it easier to load the heavy churns on to the lorry collecting them. By the end of the 1970s all the milk was collected from farms by road tankers as it is today.
To get back to 2022, with good weather the grass is growing well and crops are beginning to ripen. Wheat and barley are slowly turning from green to golden yellow.
A sunny dry spell means haymaking can get underway. Hay is dried grass. The grass is cut and spread out to dry for several days in the sunshine. Any moisture in the grass when it is baled will cause mould to grow and the hay will be spoilt.
Cattle are out in the fields enjoying the summer grass and the sunshine.
They eat their fill and then lie down to chew the cud.
For sheep farmers warmer weather means the sheep will need shearing. With a thick fleece sheep can get stressed in the summer months. Usually, a team of shearers is called in. They travel from farm to farm and are expert at removing the fleece from a sheep in no time at all.
Summer is the best time for soft fruit like strawberries and for a wide variety of vegetables. Some growers run a pick-your-own scheme. Strawberries are often grown in polytunnels and raised off the ground to protect the fruit from the weather and slugs. It makes picking the fruit much back-breaking. Click here for an easy delicious recipe with strawberries.