August on the Farm (2020)

Richard Fonge combining at Stuchbury in 1966

Richard writes:

August started out fine with the combines at work, but with this wet spell in the middle it now looks as if an early harvest will not be happening. Spring barley and spring beans up the Moreton road are nearly ready, as is the wheat up the concrete road. This is a crop I have been closely following. It was sown into a good seedbed and has despite the very dry April/May ripened into what looks like a high yielding crop. I expect it will go for bread making. As a retired farmer I get great pleasure seeing such a crop develop, similarly with the lambs reared on the Stuchbury footpath, with the weaned ones now eating the stubble turnips. These lambs were born to good ewes and sired from quality Rams. That can be seen by their conformation with the meat being laid down in the right areas.

Two crops seen in the area are what are called green cover crops, sown to land where no normal crop has been planted, (this year due to the wet Autumn/winter). They have been planted to stop soil erosion and provide green manure when incorporated back into the soil. One can be seen on the footpath on Barrow Hill. This is a clover growing densely, with the weed fat hen growing through it. The other was the buck wheat plant with its yellow flower, seen up the Moreton road and on the way to Helmdon. Bees love it as a source of nectar. Happy beekeepers!

With yields of all crops expected to be down this year, food security is now a subject very much back on the agenda. With the events of the last six months very much in mind, it makes it so much more essential that we as a country produce the food we require to feed the population. A true sobering fact is that at present we produce 64% of our needs. In other words we would run out of our yearly supply on August the 20th.

The feel of approaching Autumn can be seen with the ripening of the blackberries and sloes, and the gathering of swallows on the electric lines, ready for their migration next month.

Finally a true tale of four brothers, who farmed along the Welsh Lane, the eldest of whom, called Charlie, had a black patch over an eye that he had lost as a boy. They bought a colour television when they first came out and said to a neighbour that it was like this “Our Charlie were now blind and deaf, so us have bought him a telly to keep him happy”. Characters fondly remembered from a bygone age.

Richard Fonge.



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