April on the Farm (2019)

“….many different shades of green…”

Richard Fonge writes:

True to form as the blackthorn blossom dies away the temperature warms up. We are in serious need of rain for the crops and ourselves. After a pretty dry winter we could be in for a shortage by the Summer’s end if our reservoir stocks aren’t soon replenished.

Whilst we can’t control the weather, those that farm the land and manage it have a huge impact on how our landscape is shaped. The views around our parish and the crops and woods within it are there because of the way it is farmed and managed for country sports. Government also plays its part with its agriculture and environmental policies.

Whilst we have grass margins around fields for environmental reasons and wildlife bird mixtures on the Stuchbury to Greatworth footpath and up Barrow hill, the biggest wildlife corridor is of course the disused railway line. The trains once visible from the village before its closure in the mix-sixties have been replaced by the natural re-generation of the banks, soon to be a mass of May blossom, the flower of the white thorn.

The lambs are growing a pace with the dry weather to their advantage. Lamb is a meat produced from grass and their mothers milk with some added supplementary feed in some management systems. 40% of all lamb produced in this country is exported in carcass form, most of it to the Paris wholesale market. As I have mentioned before sheep are so vital to the countryside both as a grazer of our less favoured areas and the keeping of old pastures. The Oilseed Rape is now in full flower, but this year the crop is very variable due to the withdrawal of a pesticide that controlled the cabbage stem flea beetle, and the lack of a suitable alternative to combat this voracious insect, making the viability of this crop a possible doubt for the future.

One of the delights of this time of year are the many different shades of green as the crops grow and the hedges and trees come into leaf. Just stand on Castle Green to appreciate the village and countryside around you. It is a privilege to live in such a place.

Richard Fonge



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