July on the Farm

Richard Fonge writes:

July sees the start of the grain harvest. This year due to our prolonged spell of hot weather, the start of combining the barley and oil seed rape is a good fortnight earlier, with the wheat not far behind. The crops have died off rapidly rather than a slower ripening. It will be interesting to see how the yield and quality have been affected.

As you may have observed all farm machinery is of a great size and power today. Modern technology has replaced labour, so we see an efficient agriculture around us, producing high quality food. An interesting comparison to show the development from sixty years ago. Then a combine had a cutting width of 8ft and harvested 10 acres a day, producing around 15 tonnes of wheat. Today the width of cut is 30ft (and some are up to 40ft). The yield of the wheat is 4 tonnes per acre or thereabouts and the acreage done in a day 80 so harvesting 300 tonnes plus. In 1958 all milling wheat was mainly imported from Canada by the major millers. But by the early eighties we had bred our own varieties and become self sufficient.

The Spring beans up Barrow Hill have now flowered. If you walked through them at the end of last month, you could not help but notice the fantastic scent and the presence and sound of bees working hard.

July is the month when many of the lambs born in the early spring are ready for the butcher. Those remaining are weaned and finished on grass. Their mothers milk has now dried up and the ewes will have a complete rest before meeting up with the rams in the Autumn.

Finally is is sad to see the railway tunnel boarded up due to the unsafety of the brick work and the footpath diverted. The tunnel was built because the railway went through an old green lane that was the main route for horse and cart and people to go eastwards from Sulgrave. The Cluniac monks used it way back in the late 12th century to carry their produce to the Mother Church in Northampton from their church at Stuchbury.

It is so important to remember and respect the history of where one lives.

Richard Fonge

See here for a map of footpaths and bridleways in Sulgrave Parish.

See here for a website report from 2014 detailing the original proposal to divert Bridleway AY4 where it crosses the disused Great Central Railway. The tunnel is now to be permanently closed, with a footpath for pedestrians over the embankment and an option for horse riders to follow the originally proposed diversion to the north.



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