As I travel to and from work at this time of year I am always struck by the rapid change in the farmed countryside at the turn of the farming year. After swaying cereal crops are harvested, in the long, settled days of August and September, then the bales appear, round or rectangular, arrayed in different patterns dependent upon each farm’s preference. Near Stamford Bridge we have fields which each harvest time are populated by huge monolithic stacks of straw bales, elsewhere I see ‘roly poly bales’ singly or grouped in threes.
The stubble fields can rapidly green up with a flush of weeds and these can be very valuable for wild birds and pollinators, which depend on the flowers or seeds they produce. Over-wintered stubbles have long been an option earning stewardship subsidies for their wildlife value. However, these are much less common now and more often than not I see that within a week they are cultivated, turning the landscape dark brown and giving rise to that distinctive smell of the earth on warm days of early autumn.
Muck spreading gives rise to another characteristic aroma at the turn of the year, wafting from the surrounding fields, even at quite some distance! From my vantage point on the upper deck of a Coastliner bus, (whisking along the A64, that artery linking Leeds with Scarborough by way of York and Malton) I can enjoy the changing scenes of farmland up above the hedgerows and away from any country smells in my comfortable seat. With wifi on board too, I can even blog about it in the process.
Here are a selection of images snapped from the top deck over the past few months.