Cuckoo oats and woodcock hay
makes a farmer run away
— old Cornish proverb
Sugars peak at midsummer then fall as the nights draw in
and for the third year in a row we’re entering August
with the hay-barn empty but for some bought-in straw
and your motorbike wedged in a corner stall.
We lose patience and cut on a rumour. Rain threatens all day,
the Met Office map sprouting clouds and the odd blue drop
until out of the grey comes summer and the meadows buzz
with a mob of machines, all laying up futures in grass.
The Massey steams out of the shed like a red dragon,
the Bamford baler behind it a triumph of ’70s calibration,
part Wallace and Gromit, part Heath Robinson,
the pick-up all of a pother, the chute dropping sweet oblongs
onto the stubble. This is grace consecrated in metal,
grab-arms gathering, hydraulics shunting the hay
to the needles, knotters, cutters, in precise sequence,
their neat fit the only magic we know or need.
from Red Devon