The EU is the world’s second largest agriculture producer and a sojourn in Central Europe underlines this…..providing you stay off the beaten track.
An enforced stay at a farm stay near Salzburg lifted the veil on gthe activity as far as our party was concerned.
Much of Europe seems filled to capacity with tourists in summer, specially a summer like this one. Surprisingly, and thank goodness, the Salzkammergut is not crazy busy as so many seaside resorts are.
This paradise on earth, as many find it to be, is also serious agricultural country composed as much of it is, of huge unenclosed meadows stretching up from the lakeshores to the treelines. For those used to the closely fenced fields of rural England, these vast, empty, and often steeply sloping meadows with few houses are areas of great beauty.
And at this time of year they are often busy. Ample rainfall and reliable summer sunshine lead to rapid grass growth with the possibility of as many as 8 grass cuts a year for silage. So, after a rain, the cutters are quickly out.
Then come the wooflers, rotary forks mounted on tractors to turn the drying grass. After this, another tractor towing counter- rotating rakes pushes the woofled grass into rows for the combine to pick up., if the weather stays dry and warm, a combine harvester comes to pick up the rows of drying grass which are then transported to the silage clamp in huge tractor drawn trailers.
Lastly, the grass in the clamps is compressed by heavy weight tractors, layer after layer so that it can ferment and solidify into sugar and other rich cattle nutrients. As. Industrial cattle feed is hugely costly, every natural , home-grown gramme counts.
Much of this activity passes largely unseen by tourists on the lakeside beaches or is probably passed by on the road without much thought. But it is very rewarding to watch the full show for a day as the teamwork is very impressive, each tractor driver seemingly wired up to his companions although there are no visible electronic communications. But nowadays there may well be.
On the farm where we have our rooms, cutting began last night at about 1700 after an early evening rain and finished at around 0800 this morning, following an overnight stop after a moonlit finish. After a restart at about 0500, 3 own farm tractors driven by "our" farmer, his wife,and a barely teenage son and a contract combine harvester took up the work. Barely a stop all day and just about finished by 1530 on a very hot day.
Very impressive and, one must suppose, being repeated all over the country and presumably much of mountainous Europe. Watching these activities increases the respect town dwellers have for farmers of whose daily activities we often know so little. Does milk come from the bottle or the cow? It is said many children do not know. Agricultural education, like sex education, should be compulsory.