As someone who enjoys looking at photos of the more intricately patterned and sacredly geometric crop circles, I admit I also forget that those crops belong to some farmer who may not be too happy to see their field trampled by whatever is making those circles. All we ever see are the pristine photos taken the morning the crop circles are discovered, not the ones two days later of the decomposing grains, spectator trash and a farmer shaking a fist at annoying drones. One enterprising farmer is paying for the loss of about eight tons of grain by charging £2 ($2.59 US) to see the circle.
“I noticed that the gate to the field was open and when I went to close it, I saw that a lot of the wheat had been pressed down, it must have happened overnight."
Shelley Klindt found the crop circle in a mature wheat field on her Hannington, Wiltshire, farm on the morning of August 4. While her husband’s family has managed the field since the 1970s, she says this is the first crop circle on the farm that anyone can remember. By the time she got there, a man with a drone was already filming the circle.
“I tried to keep this quiet but the pictures went online and people started turning up."
The crop circle measure 60 meters (220 feet) in diameter and crosses three tramlines – those lines in the pictures that are actually for the farmer to use to avoid trampling crops with tractors – which are 24 meters apart. Klindt estimates that the circle alone destroyed 8 tons of wheat. For reference, a wheat farmer in Alton Barnes near Marlborough hit by a crop circle in July estimated his loss at about £120,000 ($155,000 US). That’s just the beginning, says Klindt.
“It’s a hassle, we were 10 days from combining the crops and now all the wheat that’s been pushed to the floor can’t be harvested, it’s ruined. We will have to claim this on our insurance which will make our insurance costs go up.”
It gets worse. The photographs are attracting visitors from all over the world.
"We've had helicopters, low-flying aircraft and so many drones. On Saturday we had about 130 people and eight or nine people were there camping out in the middle of the circle to watch the Perseid meteor shower. And this morning I got a call at 4:30am to say there was a van with 'love' on it and a man with a magical cape dancing around with incense sticks."
According to her interview with the BBC, that’s when Shelley Klindt got the brilliant idea to bring out a cherry picker and charge £2 per person to go up and get a crow’s-eye view of the costly crop circle. She expects to get another week’s worth tourist cash until it’s time to harvest the crops. At £2 a ride, it’s a help but she’s still a long way from making up for the loss. The local police are reminding people that it’s an offense to make crop circles, but that hasn’t stopped their formation, says Klindt.
“I think it’s man-made but everyone else seems to think it’s spiritual or aliens or something.”
Of course they do … you can’t sue aliens for damages. Whatever the cause, the effect of crop circles is a cost to a farmer. There's nothing sacredly geometric about that.