harvest 2014

combine harvester in great forest field
combining wheat in Great Forest field


Harvest is now in full swing. The first of the wheat was combined over the weekend and today it’s being loaded into lorries to be taken to the central co-operative grain store. Larger, more efficient machinery means that the combine can cut four times the acreage in a day than we cut ten years ago so that the combine is now working here for days at a time, rather than weeks. These days are spread over a few weeks and in the gap until the rest of the wheat ripens, the hedges and verges around the already harvested fields will be cut back and cultivations will begin for next year’s crops.



If you listen to The Archers, you may be under the impression that during harvest farmers have time to sit in the pub having a pint with their leisurely meal. If only. All too often, lunch and supper are eaten on tractors as drivers wait on the field headland watching for the flashing light on the combine to indicate that the tank is full and signal to them to drive alongside so that it can unload into the trailer. Balanced meals with at least  five a day fruit and vegetables are cast aside in favour of food that can be eaten one-handed while driving across a rough field without making hands sticky and can rattle around in the tractor cab all day without turning to mush. Beautifully presented bento boxes decoratively laid out with delicate fish and salads are definitely not on the menu. Instead, solid, old-fashioned food seems to fit the bill and some days as I pack up pork pies with a tomato and a hard-boiled egg, it seems like stepping back thirty years and needs only a bottle of fizzy pop or ginger beer to complete the picture.



packing raspberry crumble cake for evening cold boxes
packing raspberry crumble cake for evening cold boxes

Soft Essex huffers are more popular than chewy sourdough and while the raspberries are plentiful, I’ve been making Raspberry Crumble cake to slip into evening coldboxes when energy and concentration levels dip. Slightly sharp, juicy raspberries contrast with chunks of white chocolate, flaked almonds and a buttery crumble topping to make a cake that can be cut into sizeable chunks and won’t fall apart like a delicate sponge cake.

Click here for the Raspberry Crumble cake recipe.

Click here to find out how to make Essex Huffers

29 thoughts on “harvest 2014

  1. Essex huffers is a new one in me. Heading down to Essex this week so I will watch out for them. Meantime I shall be clicking those links. Lovely post, reminds us all of how hard farm work is

  2. That crumble cake sounds so good, I want to join the crew. Glad to hear the weather has been fine enough for you to harvest.

    1. I’m sure we can find a tractor for you Glenda. We’ve been harvesting between the downpours – luckily we finished on Sunday just before the weather broke and hope that it will all be dry and sunny again when the rest of the wheat is ready.

  3. I have just lost my comment… computers are so annoying. Oh well, second attempt. Bento boxes with delicate fish and salad? I would go for the pies and crumble with pop every time! The sound of the combine harvester is the sound of my childhood summers. Every time I hear one, I am transported straight back. I have once helped out during potato harvest and it was gruesomely hard work even though I was only sorting spuds and not doing the hard parts. I am glad I don’t have to work in the fields from morning to night just now, it must be extremely tiring. I hope the weather stays dry for you.

    1. I know exactly what you mean about the sound of the combine, especially when I breathe in that dusty smell too. We had to help with potato harvest and I always thought the worst part was that it was so cold and miserable. I’m very glad we no longer grow potatoes.

    1. I used to listen to the Archers most days but in recent years I’ve lost interest and just catch the tail end on a Sunday morning – it’s getting a bit racy (for The Archers) with all that extra marital sex, .

  4. I’m salivating at the sight and sound of that Raspberry Crumble Cake. And a Pork Pie wouldn’t be too bad either.
    But more fascinated by the Hockey Queensland drink container!
    Wishing you all the best with harvest.

    1. One of my sons plays hockey in New Zealand and last time he came home the drink container appeared. I presume he’d been playing with someone from Queensland and swapped. He has quite a collection of team shirts from teams he’s never played for, including ones from abroad because they get so much badged kit that they often swap at the end of tournaments.

    1. The Archers is a radio soap opera about life in a fictional farming village – you haven’t missed much. I think farmers in our grandparents’ time did lots of very physical tough work and I’m very grateful for the machinery we have that makes the work much easier.

  5. Hope the harvest all goes well for you Anne! Harvest fare sounds fine to me – especially if there’s a slice or two of that Raspberry Crumble Cake tucked away in the lunch box! Great drink bottle in the background there! 🙂

  6. Anne…your raspberry crumble cake looks so good! Harvest looks very busy & productive. I know exactly what you mean about packing hearty food that can withstand bumpy paddocks and men on the move. Just this morning I packed what we call a ‘tuckerbox’ with cold sausages, buttered white bread, solid chocolate brownie and plenty of tea. Not exactly health food but substantial and appreciated just the same x

    1. Jane, that’s exactly the sort of food I pack up but from now on I’m going to call them a tuckerbox because it sounds much more exciting.

  7. Are you saying that you haven’t had time to attend the village fete, organise a protest against a proposed new road and get the harvest in…?! Good to see that there’s still time to make cake though – it looks delicious.

  8. Raspberry crumble cake sounds like a keeper, I can’t wait to try it. Happy harvesting and I hope it’s a successful one. Cool new theme too!

  9. I love the fact that despite technology modernising life, the food still needs to be traditional. Makes me think of home made pasties and cider 🙂 (I do seem to have rose-tinted specs on at the mo mind you!).

    The cake looks and sounds divine…..

  10. huffer, a soft huffer!!! i have never heard of such thing but i instantly love it for the word alone. makes me wonder how it came by such a cherry name.
    i am printing out that raspberry cake recipe, ready for next summer.

    1. Someone told me that huffers are so called because they’re “half a loaf” that farmworkers used to take to eat while working in the fields. In Suffolk they have dockers – because when the workers stopped to eat their lunch the time was docked from their wages. No idea if either story is true, but I don’t think it matters.

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