Harvesting potatoes

potato harvest

Grand-père worries about me. He worried about me damaging my clothes, or my shoes, or that I’d get dirt under my nails. I try to explain that my clothes are not so precious, especially those already with holes in. I tell him that I’ve had the same shoes for years and I’d much prefer to be wearing something I’m comfortable in. And as for the nails, I just looked at him in despair.

Often it’s my hair he worries about, as if washing out the twigs, dirt and dust is somehow a challenge for me. He’s particularly concerned about me getting dust in my hair. Maybe he doesn’t realise that having my hair in a chaotic and dusty state gives me an extra excuse for standing in the hot shower. It’s a gift to my aching muscles.

The concern bemuses me. Perhaps he thinks that I take ages to shove my hair in a bun, pony-tail or loosely plait it. I won’t deny that there’s a lot of hair to manage. I’m blessed with a surplus of long thick hair. But I’m not the sort of person to spend hours in front of the mirror.

His delusion reminds me of the Japanese lady I met outside Tutmosis III’s tomb in the valley of the kings, who was horrified when, after plucking up the courage to ask how I managed to make my hair look like a rose, I yanked out my bobble to demonstrate.

It’s genetics not skill.

For unknown reason, the potato harvest caused a sudden worry about the dirt and my nails. There’s dirt involved whatever you’re doing on a farm, not just the potato harvest. Oil and dirt covered my hands when I was cleaning the plough. We pulled out the twigs, grass and wire that the mechanism had caught, using knives from the 1800s because apparently such knives are better. When watering the poly-tunnel I pick up the yellow pollen which makes everything you touch yellow, which to me is much worse than simple dirt.

Anyway, to the important activity of harvesting potatoes. It’s quite a self-explanatory activity.  Potatoes live in the ground and you have to dig through the earth until you find them all. We used a digger to break up the earth. Then we picked up the potatoes with our hands getting dirt under our nails.

Potatoes are special though. You can’t just chuck them in a basket though. Before storing the potatoes, you have to lay them in the dirt for a few hours so that any insects go down into the earth rather than finding a home in the potato store. With three of us working together the harvest didn’t take too long. It wasn’t a big harvest, but it was sufficient to please Grand-mère. The local potato harvest hasn’t been great and she knows people who haven’t got any potatoes this year.

When we were done, I magically (with the aid of a nailbrush) managed to remove the dirt from my face and hands. Grand-père inspected my clean nails and seemed pleased no damage was done.

2 Comments
  • Juliann
    Saturday 8 October 2016

    Sounds like such a satisfying experience. I just spent the day outside doing yardwork and burning brush, so I had my own dirty, dusty day. Now onto the aching muscles and shower.

    • Catherine Oughtibridge
      Friday 14 October 2016

      The aching muscles and shower make you feel like you’ve really done something worthwhile though don’t they.