September on the Farm (2019)

Colin Russell with his 1939 Fordson Standard

Richard Fonge writes:

We are experiencing some wonderfully warm September weather after what has been in general a good harvest. The yields of wheat have been exceptional, with the wet of June coming at the right time to fill the grain as it was forming. Farming is so weather dependent to produce the food we need to live, and in this country we have a climate that allows us to produce such a wide variety of meats, vegetables and grain to satisfy our appetites.

In our parish of Sulgrave we have the soil type to grow the grains and the pastures to rear the beef and lamb and for dairying. Whilst we can grow vegetables in our gardens the land is totally unsuitable for vegetables and soft fruit production on a commercial scale.

At present there is a strong debate within society around the eating of meat, but what we must remember that to treasure our countryside as we see it now, is that we must strike a sensible balance. An eminent academic recently stated that we should plough up the pastures used for beef and lamb production and use them for vegetable growing. By doing so he showed his ignorance and lack of research into soil types.

The many walks we can take around the village pass through fields with a variety of crops and whilst we all have the right to choose our diet, please remember that farmers would not graze cattle and sheep for the fun of it.

The blackberries are abundant this year and I have noticed that the chestnuts have plenty of conkers. On the Stuchbury footpath a strip of wheat has been left unharvested, which is a bit of a mystery why, but I will find the reason for the October notes. The ewes have returned onto the grass field on that path ready to receive the rams.

Earlier this month an annual vintage ploughing match took place in the field on your way to the Magpie. Some two dozen ploughmen took part, keeping an old tradition alive. Their dedication to maintaining these old tractors and ploughs in working order has to be admired. It makes you realise how far we have come in the mechanisation of agriculture when you see today’s machines working the land or passing through the village.

Finally a friend of mine the Rev Dr Gatward is preaching at our Harvest Festival, he is a countryman as well as a priest, and definitely well worth a listen. The service will be held in the church on Sunday 6th October at 6.00 pm.

Richard Fonge



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