I live on a farm and every year we cut and bale a crop of hay. It’s a proper rural pleasure but it can be a stressful time as well and what, I wondered, must it feel like if the crop that you are bringing in is necessary to your actual survival?

I wanted to write a story that had a predominantly female voice and this is the tale of a mother and her daughter.

And of course, the tale needed a villain, as stories often do, so what better than a soulless, merciless hunk of metal.

HARVEST was written even as the dust from our 2020 hay making was still settling on the barn floor.

Of all the things in the entire world this was the thing she hated the most and yet here she was, dependent on it, forced into conciliation in order to survive. Why was it the women who were always left to compromise, she thought? Why must we be the ones that back down?

There was something insect-like about the machine. A deep, louvered grill looked like mouth-parts and headlamp eyes bugged out on either side. It was an iron locust. It was a steel cicada. It was all the woman could do not to turn away but she walked into the dark instead. The dark of the barn and that other dark, the one she tried so hard to hide from.

Like all monsters, the tractor liked to change its shape. When she stood by the side of the machine, the woman saw it as the corpse of a beast; a wild hog perhaps, bestial, brutal and cruel. The massive spine of the transmission ran from front to back. Levers and pedals jutted from it like ribs picked clean. The cab and bonnet had begun life as bright, Massey Ferguson red but they had faded into a pink; the exsanguinated colour of flayed meat. ”

From VISCERA, a collection of imaginative short fiction published by Climbing Tree Books.