Clearing the sunflower fields

In previous years, we’ve never been here to see the aftermath of the sunflower harvest. This year, because of the unusual weather this spring, crops were delayed and harvesting took place later. So for the first time we have been able to observe the process, and it’s fascinating. It will make me think differently when I crunch sunflower seeds in my muesli, or pour sunflower oil into the wok.

After the sunflower heads have been carted away for processing, the field is left with stalks intact [below].field after harvesting 12-10-13The stubble is rougher than that left by wheat, but at a distance it looks like the gentle fuzz of a chin unshaven for a day [below].cleared field, stubbly horizon 12-10-13The next job is to rake the stalks, and clear them. This is not a single process, but many steps and hours on the tractor. First, the farmer rakes the stalks into lines [below].farmer rakes stalks into lines first 12-10-13Then he rakes the field in the opposite direction and clears the lines into piles. The result, a neat line of piles, often two metres high [below].a line of heaps of stalks 12-10-13There is a pleasing geometry to the finish resulted.heap of stalks - close-up 12-10-13heap of stalks1 12-10-13heap of stalks2 12-10-13heap of stalks3 12-10-13heap of stalks4 12-10-13stalks and goats 12-10-13After the stalks have been raked up and burned, there are still stalks left in the ground [below].field after stalks raked up 12-10-13So the remaining last job for the farmer is also the first job in preparation for the next crop. He ploughs the field [below] ready to scatter the seeds which will germinate and take root over the winter. A dusty job, but a symbolic one: the changing of the seasons.a dusty job, ploughing after clearing 12-10-13

5 to remember
una tarea polvorienta – a  dusty job
el rastrojo – stubble
los tallos – the stalks
la cosecha – the harvest
el arado – the plough

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