April on the Farm (2020)

Richard Fonge writes:

Whilst we are in lockdown, the land around and all it supports has to be cared for. The hundreds of ewes and lambs in the fields around Sulgrave are testament to many days and nights of dedicated stockmanship before they arrived in the fields, and will still need looking at every day. We as humans immunise our babies against various diseases that afflict us, and this is just the same with animals, but obviously difference diseases. Lambs need protecting from a clostridium group of soil found bacterial diseases, which include Pulpy Kidney and tetanus are fatal. This is done by giving the pregnant ewe an injection six to eight weeks before lambing, which then passes the immunisation onto the lamb through the milk. That first milk soon after birth is absolutely vital to its well being.

I said last month that it would be interesting to see what crops would be sown after the wet winter or indeed if some land would be left unsown. Well the fields up on the concrete road were planted into spring wheat, which is just emerging, and like our gardens are in need of rain. These fields were cultivated, drilled and then rolled. The rolling with ring rolls is done to firm the seeds in the ground to aid germination, and to break down any remaining lumps of soil. (On grass fields a flat roll is used to flatten out the tread marks of the stock.) Up the gated road, Spring barley has been planted on the right and beans at the top on the left before the Weston road. A different method of sowing here. They were drilled direct into the old crop residue. But as you walk from Barrow Hill back to the village these fields will remain unplanted until the Autumn, along with others in the parish.

I finished my notes last month with a reminder to look our for the returning swallows. Two appeared on the 8th April just outside the village for a few days but have now gone as I write on the 17th. I am sure more will appear soon.

In these challenging times, aren’t we so fortunate like all rural dwellers to have footpaths to walk for our recreation. These paths are rights of way, across privately owned land and they give us a great opportunity to observe what goes on in the countryside, and I hope these notes help to enlighten my readers on certain things they see from time to time. To the landowners who maintain these paths we should thank and respect their privacy.

Richard Fonge



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