August on the Farm (2019)

The Village Pound

Richard Fonge writes:

August is the main harvesting month and most of the crops are now safely in store. The one crop that we may see less of being grown is oil seed rape. This is a crop first grown in the early 1970s, that soon became an integral part of the corn growers rotation, as it made an ideal break crop from wheat and barley and the oil crushed from the seeds is widely used in numerous everyday products so making it a profitable crop to grow. But unfortunately it has a deadly enemy in the cabbage stem flea beetle, which attacks the plant at germination and the larvae are to be found in the growing plants stem, so restricting the uptake of nutrients to the flowers and therefore the yield. Nieonectonoid insecticides used as a spray used to be an effective control method against the beetle but have been banned due to the potential harm to the bee population. The beetle has the upper hand over the alternative insecticides, so many farmers are looking at alternative crops.

I was asked last month about the cacophony of noise coming from the lambs bleating in the field by the bridle path to Weston. This was due to the lambs being weaned from their mothers. At about eighteen weeks of age they are ready to be weaned and it only takes three days or so for both parties to forget each other. All animals are weaned or indeed wean themselves at a certain age from their mothers.

Field sizes are measured in acres and are still sold in acres despite the introduction of hectares with metrication all those years ago. 2.47 acres equals one hectare.

Two small areas of ground are worth mentioning in the Parish. Firstly the village pound, which is now a small patch of grass with a Silver Birch tree planted on it in memory of Mr Bill Henn a lifetime farmer in the village and Parish Council Chairman for many years. This area is found on your left as you leave on the gated road just before Manor View. Villages had a pound where stray stock was impounded and released back to the rightful owner on suffrance of a fine.

The second small field is the triangular one at the Magpie junction. This would have been used by the drovers for their stock to rest up whilst they themselves rested at the Magpie Inn, as it was in those days when the Welsh Lane was a great droving road from Wales to London. There are, or indeed were many of these small fields along that route where the stock were rested. Another point of interest is that along the Welsh Lane you will find farmers with Welsh names from time to time. Not all the drovers returned home for whatever reason.

The second droving road was from Banbury to Northampton market, with the stock being driven along from Thorpe Mandeville, to Culworth and onto Weston and Northampton. Therefore Culworth was a crossroads and that is why the road to Weston from Culworth is called Banbury Lane.

Richard Fonge



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