The harvest wagons sound

For most of us harvest time passes us by; we might notice the seasons changing, the days getting shorter, neighbours offering us fruit and vegetables which have grown in abundance, but for the most part, our lives chug on the same as usual.

Here is Somerset the orchards (many of them recently planted as cider grows in popularity) are almost ready to have their apples picked, farm machinery ‘the harvest wagons‘, are on the roads day and night, and villages will be having their ‘Harvest Homes’ – a great feast, eating and drinking, dancing into the night, to celebrate this time of year.

I came across an interesting site which was discussing  church harvest festivals – another aspect of life which has changes as fewer people attend church; as well as a brief history, there was a nice selection of recipes. Here was what was offered:

  • harvest soup (it was a bit of a modern twist, including squash and yoghurt, but in the olden days a hearty vegetable soup would certainly have been on any Harvest Home menu!)
  • cottage loaf
  • fidget pie
  • baked stuffed marrow
  • apple damson tansy
  • apple cake
  • hedgerow jelly

Here is another extract from John Clare’s ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar’ for September:

The maid afield now leaves the farm
With brimming bottles on her arm
Loitering unseen in narrow lane
To be oertook by following swain
Who happy thus her truth to prove
Carrys the load and talks of love
Full soon the harvest wagons sound
Rumbling like thunder all around
In ceasless speed the corn to load
Hurrying down the dusty road
While driving boy with eager eye
Watches the church clock passing bye
Whose gilt hands glitter in the sun
To see how far the hours have run
Right happly in the breathless day
To see it wearing fast away
Yet now and then a sudden shower
Will bring to toil a resting hour
When under sheltering shocks a crowd
Of merry voices mingle loud
Wearing the short lived boon along
With vulgar tale and merry song
Draining with leisures laughing eye
Each welcome bubbling bottle drye
Till peeping suns dry up the rain
Then off they start to toil again

Anon the fields are wearing clear
And glad sounds hum in labours ear
When childern halo ‘here they come
And run to meet the harvest home
Stuck thick with boughs and thronged with boys
Who mingle loud a merry noise
Glad that the harvests end is nigh
And weary labour nearly bye
Where when they meet the stack thronged yard
Cross bunns or pence their shouts reward

John Clare

… and here is the link to the recipes:


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