Saturday 9th August, 2008
As you know we have finished our crops and have gone off to help a neighbouring group with theirs. Over the season you have seen most off the "Team", but there were two missing. On the left above is Gareth, who is the proud father of Jenson Jack. Now that mother and baby are home he has returned to the fold. Can't think why! Also in the picture is Gordon who has been with us in the peas since 1986. As well as repairing the machines when there are problems, not with a big hammer all the time, he walks miles each day fine tuning the settings to produce the best sample possible. At times you will see him run across the field when he hears that something is wrong with a viner. He's the fittest man of his age I know. Simon at CLT could take a leaf out of his book. Today the two viners working near Boston will finally return to base, be cleaned and go off to PMC for their overhaul. Whilst the new machine continues elsewhere for the time being. Not read the weekend papers yet, so nothing to bang on about. Good I hear you say!
Thursday 7th August, 2008
We've taken the new viner on a ride out to see if it will climb hills rather than the "mole hills" we are used to on the Fens! As you can see quite a steep hill, but the Group we are with would probably say it's just a slight incline. If he didn't say that I'm sure he would have something to say. I'm pleased that our Menorca Division has been keeping close tabs on us, but does appear to be missing the rollercoaster ride that is the pea season. Good article in the Telegraph yesterday about The Pea Industry by Kate Colquhoun. As good an explanation as you would get. If you missed it you can view it online.
Wednesday 6th August, 2008
2008 completed at 03:00 this morning! Now we have to clean the machines down throughly so that they can be transported back to PMC in Fakenham for their over-winter overhaul. If you do not know The Chuckle Brothers above, Mark Clayton on the left, the slim one, has just had his first season with us as our field mechanic getting regular guidance from Gordon, and I think it has worked very well. Simon Clayton on the right, the not so slim one, runs Clayton-Lenton Transport and hauls all our peas. He tells me that they offer a competitive and friendly service for all your general haulage requirements. If you are tunning in from Menorca, it has been very quiet. Did you miss the season?
Tuesday 5th August, 2008
The Boys are now in the last field of peas for the 2008 season. It has now been some 7 weeks since we started our tour around the county. In the main it has gone well, more like a normal pea season. There have been peaks and troughs, and difficult days when temperatures were high and machinery under pressure. However nearly there. The picture shows a lorry having just returned from a factory, with some graffitti on the back. On investigation it was discovered that the culprit was a Polish national. I thought that was probably his name, but we are informed it is the Polish for "clean me!" Good to have a sense of humour.
Sunday 3rd August, 2008
This is Will, he has now been our sampler for three years. Will walks all the fields in turn and takes some plants, gets a bag full and then puts them through our mini-viner and tendarometer. This gives us a reading of the tenderness of the peas and therefore when we should harvest the crop. Yet again he has been very thorough and accurate with his sampling. Today is his last day of the season. He will have driven thousands of miles in the last six weeks, with a lot of walking in between. As well as the readings from the machine, he also now has the experience to give a valued opinion of the crops. Like the rest of the gang he has been invaluable to me. Yesterday was painful with the factory running slow due to overloading. Some Groups do not seem to understand that when told to deliver 20t it means just that, not 30t.
Saturday 2nd August, 2008
We are now approaching the end of our 2008 harvesting campaign. As the factory is full, and the viners clean a rare opportunity for some relaxation for the Boys. They have now worked for the last five weeks non stop, without complaint and always with a smile and a joke, yet at the same time wanting to get the job done in a professional manner for the benefit of the Group. I am very lucky to have such a good bunch of lads. They come together for six weeks a year, but you would have thought that they worked together all year. We seem to all know how each others minds work, with the exception of Harry!, and by giving them quite a lot of information about crops and what we are aiming to achieve, their input into the Group is invaluable so that we can achieve our goal. Having reported that Gareth was last seen in the maternity unit at The Pilgrim Hospital, I am pleased to report that Gareth and Katie are now the proud parents of a baby boy, Jensen Jack, JJ. We wish them well. The last six weeks will have prepared Gareth well for the night time feeds! I was going to have a bit of a rant about what's going on in the market place, but I'll leave that for another time, just to say that a major retailer who advertises heavily on the television about their close connections with British Agriculture, has decided to purchase frozen peas, and other vegetables, from outside the UK from what is recognised as an unsustainable source. In the short term it is a cheaper option, but in the long term could prove quite expensive.