Something I learned when I first became involved with a farming family was that life on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, is still surrounded by old-fashioned methods. For many years, farm workers have bartered or worked in lieu rather than exchanged invoices and money for their services. I could never understand this for many years and used to ask constantly, especially during harvest, why the Farmer went to work on neighbouring farms for hours on end, came home exhausted, only to receive no money in his hand. But the workers on these farms return the gesture; a day's fencing here, a day's cutting there.
Sheep shearing is a time when bartering takes place, as is the harvest. Lambing is generally too busy for any farmer to help on other farms as they're working flat out with their own stock. But what I'm starting to find a little unfair these days, is that since the Farmer's dad passed away four years ago, the Farmer chooses to do most of our harvesting by himself. It's a long process and takes several days to work just one field. If he had someone to help him it would be done much quicker yet he prefers to just get on with it, exhausting himself yet perhaps reaping the rewards of his hard labour at the end of it. He's worked and lived on a farm all his life, as have all the other farmers in the area. But I always ponder whether him doing the harvest by himself whilst working on other farms as well, is really balancing our books in the way an invoice should. I think we'd all like to change the world a little, but for many years this has been the way of the land. You have to admire the farming community for the way they support each other throughout the year and how they insist on following with tradition.