June on the farm (2024)

June 19th, 2024

Maize planted in the fields to the south of the Parish Boundary.
Photo: Colin Wootton

Richard Fonge writes:

We are four days away from the longest day and it feels more like winter at times. However we have had this type of June weather before and will do in the future. If you make your living from the land as I did you have to work and accept the weather you’re given by nature. Just as you accept that life and death go with keeping livestock.

The late sown barley up the concrete road looks well but I suspect it will run to seed well before it should with a very reduced yield as a consequence.

An exceptional crop of wheat sown last October after maize is up at Stuchbury in a field called Sulgrave ground at the exit from the footpath from Wemyss farm. This field I know from experience being of really good fertile soil always out yielding others on the farm. The field growing maize next to it which leads down to the farm house was called the “Milkers field”, but I found out recently it is now called Fonge’s after my family who lived and farmed there as tenants of Balliol College Oxford from 1947 to 1975. Oxford and Cambridge colleges were large land owners and still are but less so now with assets moved into other investments.

At the magpie junction is a field of maize which runs along towards the new road, this crop will be harvested for animal feed, whereas the Stuchbury fields and those planted on the way to Banbury will be used to go into an anaerobic digester for energy production. This is the changing use of land from food production to energy, with also the growing number of solar farms. A sensible balance must be struck between the demands of green energy, nature conservation and food production.

Recently you may have been aware of large tractor and trailers coming through the village for several hours. They were carting fresh cut grass to be made into silage by heaping it into and tightly rolling it down in a clamp were it is sealed and then used as a winter feed for cattle.

We have just witnessed some very articulate D.Day veterans with their memories , and it reminded me of a gentleman I knew who died in 1993 at the age of 101, who could remember his elderly grandmother who was born in 1807 telling him a story from a soldier relative who had fought at Waterloo in 1815.

Richard Fonge

Sulgrave Village Summer Fete and D-Day Commemoration, Saturday 8th June 2024

June 12th, 2024

The “Polka Dots” entertain with period songs on the evening of the Fete and D-Day Commemoration.
Photograph: Graham Roberts

Well in advance of the day, Sulgrave Parish Council had decided that the Village Summer Fete should be held on the Saturday nearest to 6th June in order to combine the usual entertainments with a special commemoration of one of the most significant events of the Second World War, the invasion of Normandy on 6th June 1944, now eighty years ago.

Held on Castle Green, the afternoon fete featured many traditional activities, including a dog show, falconry exhibition, Morris Men, bottle and other stalls, bowling (though not “for a pig” as was once the tradition!), a licensed bar provided by the Star Inn, tea and cakes,  Websters Event Catering and Village Shop exhibits. Music was provided by the Brackley and District Brass Band.

The evening D-Day commemoration event was kindly produced by Pamela Wagman and took place within the flag decorated marque. The excellent “Polka Dot” duo sang songs from the forties and fifties, to the nostalgia of the elderly and amazement of the youngsters. Those of the former who could still stagger to their feet performed the dances of their youth, soon being emulated by the many children present.

To everyone’s surprise the day was blessed with bright sunshine and white clouds and best of all, the complete absence of rain.

I apologise for the fact that I was not able to give the event my total photographic attention, as would have been the case at similar events during the past twenty years, owing to family commitments. I am therefore indebted to members of the Sulgrave Camera Club for many of the photographs featured on the next page.

Colin Wootton

Click on……

Read the rest of this entry »

A very fine Vintage Motor Car outside the village shop. June 2024

June 8th, 2024

Photograph by Mel Kirkpatrick

Mel Kirkpatrick was working as a volunteer at the Village Shop when this beautiful old car parked outside. She rushed out and took this splendid picture. With no modern cars to be seen, this photograph of the car outside the 18th century former Reading Room which now houses the Village Community Shop could have been taken when the car was new. Hopefully, someone may be able to say when that would have been and provide some details of the car.

Thanks, Mel.

Colin Wootton

Chairman’s Report to Annual Parish Council Meeting, Thursday 9th May 2024

June 2nd, 2024

The new Vehicle Activated Speed Sign in Magpie Road
Photo: Colin Wootton

May 30th, 2024

May on the Farm (2024)

May 14th, 2024

HS2 so-called “Green Tunnel” under construction at the bottom of the huge cutting which is devastating the countryside between Sulgrave and Greatworth:
Photo: Colin Wootton

Richard Fonge writes:

We are coming to the end of a lovely warm spell, much appreciated after the last few months of rain and chill. The countryside I always feel looks at its best in early May with the freshness of the new foliage.

The better weather has come too late for the planting of the land up the gated road. This is an area of some 150 acres or 60 hectares. A sizeable area to have no income from. Official figures forecast that cereal production will be down by 17% this year because of the wet winter and spring. Although we changed from imperial to metric all those years ago, land is still advertised and sold in acres mainly. One hectare equals 2.47 acres. Also at pedigree stock auctions, the animals are sold in guineas. £1.05 pence equals a Guinea.

The majority of sheep flocks, and to an extent beef and dairy herds, are commercial. To be a pedigree flock or herd you must have kept the breeding lines and records for many years to prove the origin of your stock. Once approved as a pedigree breeder the farmer can prefix the herd or flock with a suitable name. So my younger sister Susan and husband Dennis after establishing a dairy herd on their farm in Kentucky U.S.A called it the Stuchbury herd of pedigree Holsteins.

This does not mean that commercial stock are badly bred, far from it. The selection of sires and females is most important, because the farmer is producing a product, whether that be milk or meat, that has to be to the high standard demanded and expected of the consumer, and commercially viable and profitable for the business he operates.

The agricultural show season soon begins, but sadly the Kenilworth Show which I have been involved with for nearly forty years is no longer, as a site can’t be found, due to that great destroyer of our countryside HS2 going through our present site. Agricultural shows are the industry’s shop window, where stock are shown, machinery displayed and all things countryside are in evidence. It gives the farming industry an opportunity to meet with their customers, explain by word and demonstration what we are about as food producers and guardians of the countryside.

Richard Fonge

Agendas for ANNUAL PARISH MEETING and ANNUAL PARISH COUNCIL MEETING in the Village Hall on Thursday 9th May at 7.00 pm and 8.00 pm respectively

May 6th, 2024

Village Shop Newsletter for May 2024

April 30th, 2024

April on the Farm 2024

April 16th, 2024

The last pigs to be reared in Sulgrave, twenty years ago
Photo: Colin Wootton

Richard Fonge writes:

I started last months notes by saying that there had been a much needed break in the continual wet weather allowing some field work to be done. Sadly it was just a short break, and now in mid April the continual rain persists. It is now a very serious situation for farmers and growers, which could have an impact later on in the year on food prices. You only have to look at the unplanted fields up the concrete road and on the Moreton rd to realise that the chances of planting a crop this spring is unlikely. The effects of the excessive rain can be seen in the winter wheat crop on the Stuchbury footpath. Multiply these field situations across the country and you have a serious situation. We are less than 60% self sufficient food wise as a nation anyway, so we do not want to be sucking in more imports.

In the grass field off the Helmdon rd there is a flock of young sheep. They are ewe lambs which will be bred from this autumn to have their lambs next spring at two years old when they will be called theaves. Sheep terminology is endless and confusing as it varies from different regions of the country. This wet weather has not been good for the lambing season, making it an extra pressure at a busy time. It must be remembered that lambs are born with a coat that is there to protect them from wet and cold, with wet the most threatening of the two. However providing the ewe has the milk to feed her lambs and they are born strong all should be well.

At our forthcoming fete in June there will be skittles played with the winners receiving prizes. This game was once called bowling for the pig, with the first prize of a weaner pig being hotly contested between the men of the village and others from neighbouring villages. Up until the mid 1950s the pig still paid a vital part in the household economy. The saying went. “The only bit of a pig you couldn’t eat was its squeak.” A valued prize. The pig was fed on waste food and fattened up to a good size before being humanely slaughtered by the local pig sticker. The sides were then salted and hung from hooks in the out shed and cottage kitchen. The bacon often 80% fat was vital to that cottager’s family along with the fresh vegetables from his allotment. It must be remembered that work was far more physically demanding, especially farm work where there was often a bike ride to work after a hard days labour, so the high fat meat was soon burnt off.

A man I knew who had been a teenager during the Second World War, said how well they had lived in the country during that time, with vegetables, the pig, fresh eggs, and always the odd rabbit and pigeon and cockerel to supplement their healthy diet. For that is what it was. Living off the land with no preservatives!

Richard Fonge

Neighbourhood Policing Team Visit to Sulgrave on Saturday 13th April.

April 8th, 2024

PC Mel Carter will be with a marked Police Vehicle near to the Village Shop on the Saturday morning to discuss any concerns you may have.


Top