Sunday, 9 October 2011

Harvest thanksgiving

Churches have their harvest festivals at this time of the year. A time to reflect and give thanks for the harvest. It always amuses me that my initial thought when I hear the word Harvest is of corn/grain.

Combine harvesters have been busy further down the valley, away in the direction of the south tyne where ground is more fertile and it is hoped the weather is kinder. They corn men had a battle on their hands this year, the weather was being unco - operative, that wet stuff had a habit of falling from the skies making the harvesting season a difficult one.

I don't have a great knowleadge of arable farming, they plough the fields, sow the seeds and eventually reap the harvest. The produce goes into the food chain, both ours and the food chain of the livestock. The by product of harvesting corn (the stems) is baled and becomes known as straw which finds itself being transported up into our area for bedding of livestock through the winter months, this bedding once used and soaked with muck finds itself being spread on our fields to encourage grass growth to feed the livestock through the summer and in the form of silage or hay which has been gathered off the fields.

So, my initial thought upon hearing the word Harvest is to imagine the combine harvesters going about their business gathering corn, which would make you think Tarset (an area which doesn't grow corn) doesn't have a harvest, so why then would our local church hold a service for harvest thanksgiving?

The farmers of Tarset are at the moment reaping the financial rewards of their very own harvests. The sheep and cattle sales season is upon us, the lamb crops are finally being harvested so to speak, giving us every reason to give thanks for what has been produced through out the year.

There is much hard work goes into farming, of any form. Not just hard physical graft, knowleadge is needed, skills are recquired, an understanding of your land and it's potential is needed as with your livestock and their potential. There is also a need to work hand in hand with nature and respect it.

By nature I don't just mean the birds and the bees but the larger scale. Mother nature, the elements which we battle with every day. The rain, wind, sunshine, snow, cold, heat ....... all the things we have no control over, the things which challenge farmers and shepherds alike throughout the year. The elements which make life interesting, the elements which can deflate optimisms, the elements which give us the beauty we are so accustomed to.

And so it is, once again farmers have battled the elements, they and their stock have come through yet another year and they are reaping their harvests right this minute so to speak, they are also preparing for the forthcoming season, tups are being bought, seeds will be sown again and another lamb crop will be produced. There has been much to be thankful for, decent weather at lambing time, a grassy summer and autumn, haysheds full ready for what ever onslaught mother nature has in store this coming winter.

Harvest festivals at church are social affairs but it is not necessary to have to be at church to appreciate what we have around us, we need to open our eyes, take time out, chill and just be thankful that what nature has given us she also hasn't taken from us.

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