August on the farm (2021)

Badger seen recently in the local area and photographed by John Sheppard.

Richard Fonge writes:

August is the main harvest month, and this year with the variable weather, it could be September when it is completed. The harvesting of the various crops is the culmination of a years work, and the quality and quantity of those crops, despite the many technical and mechanical advances is still influenced by the weather. In farming to harvest a good crop of any corn brings great job satisfaction, and an example of a fine crop of wheat can be seen in the field off Park lane.

In the first field on the Stuchbury footpath are thirty new sheep, with an orangery tinged fleece. They are mule sheep, a cross of the blue faced Leicester and Swaledale ewe. They are bred in the north of the country and sold on for breeding as yearlings, having their first lambs next spring at two years old. Hill farmers from across the north sell these sheep at the big sales held at, Penrith, Lazonby, High Bentham, Brough etc at this time of year, where they are bought to replenish flocks further south. They are the hill and moorland farmer’s harvest, and to present their stock at auction they are bloomed dipped, to show them at their best so as to achieve the best price. These sheep so vital to the management of the hills and dales of the north, are also responsible for much of the lamb production on the pastures of further south. As these are mainly permanent pasture as can be seen around our village, the carbon footprint is very low.

One crop to be harvested in late September is the maize at Stuchbury, to be used for the anaerobic digester. Now the cobs have been formed and the “maize is as high as an elephants eye” the badgers have moved in. Their tracks can be seen from hedge to maize in different places, along with their latrines. They push the plant down with their large paws to feed off the cobs. Easy feeding. The badger with paws made for digging, soon makes a new sett, when the family increases or it is disturbed for any reason. HS2 is making setts for them, where they are in the way at great expense. You can re house a human but a badger will go where he wants.!

Finally, living in the country makes you appreciate fully the four seasons and what they bring, and as summer draws to an end the first signs of Autumn are here. The blackberries ripening in Little street, the odd conker falling, swallows starting to collect on the telephone lines and soon field mushrooms hopefully. No better breakfast, than mushrooms picked when getting the cows in for milking and then fried with bacon and egg for breakfast after milking.

Richard Fonge.



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