June on the farm (2019)

Photograph: Jo Powell

Richard Fonge writes:

At the start of June our rainfall for the year was in deficit but the last week has certainly redressed the balance. Farmers are often criticised for always moaning about the weather, and at times they should keep their thoughts to themselves, but their livelihood as food producers does depend greatly on the weather. They take pride in their work and how the crops they grow and the livestock they rear look, so when the weather interferes to their detriment it hurts not only that pride but the financial return on that enterprise.

This is the time of the year when bees are at their busiest pollinating the crops and all flora. There are other insects that pollinate but none as efficient as the bee. In Sulgrave we have four bee keepers, so plenty of honey being produced. All arable farmers have to record the name of a local beekeeper for their crop assurance scheme and keep them informed of any field operations that may affect the hives.

I mentioned in my May notes the parish of Stuchbury. Many of you will have seen the sign to Stuchbury on the way to Helmdon and heard it spoken of. It is a parish of just over 1,000 acres with Sulgrave to the north, Greatworth to the south, Marston St Lawrence to the west and Helmdon to the east. It is one of the lost villages of Northamptonshire, now made up of three farms, two of whom exit onto the Helmdon road and the third onto the Welsh lane opposite Greatworth Park.

It was an Anglo Saxon settlement of around 700 formed by a man called Stut. A burh was the name for a manor and so the land was Stut manor. Therefore you can see how Stutburh evolved into Stuchbury over the centuries. The Danes wiped out the substantial village or town around 1000. Another point of interest was that the Saxons defined their boundaries with what we call a double hedge. That is two hedges planted with a bank in between, and this can still be clearly seen along the northern boundary adjoining the Sulgrave parish. Other pieces still remain in small segments.

I am indebted to my late Mother for these historical facts, as she did a great deal of research into the history of Stuchbury, when we farmed Stuchbury Manor Farm.

Richard Fonge



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