November on the farm (2021)

Oak leaves in Autumn

Richard Fonge writes;

We are experiencing a very mild November, with the Autumn sown crops looking well along with the wonderful colours of the trees. The oak especially this year has a wonderful leaf colour, with no better example than those in Manor Rd.

Farmers have always tried new ideas of production providing it is based on sound husbandry and economic criteria. Today the challenge is to reduce carbon footprint, and around our area there are three examples in land cultivation to note. The ploughing of land has for centuries been the way to bury the the residue of the previous crop, but today minimum tillage and direct drilling are superseding the plough. Min till is practised up the concrete road, where the soil is moved by spring tine cultivators, whereas on Barrow hill and up the Helmdon Rd direct drilling is carried out. Ploughing and the subsequent cultivations use more machinery hours and fuel than the other two, with a reduction in yield in direct drilling often. Income may be less but if costs are down the profit margin may be better, with the added bonus of a reduced carbon footprint.

Beef in this country is mostly reared by the grazing of grass and the feeding of it in winter in the form of silage. The Emission figures quoted for beef are based on the feedlots of  the U.S.A. A British grass based system is half of that, so locally produced meat with a short journey from field to plate, is environmentally sound and keeps our pastures as they have been for many years a feature of our countryside.

With the mutilation of our countryside by HS2 works to the west of Sulgrave, it makes one more appreciative of the lovely walks still to be had on the other sides of the village. Whilst a railway was built through that land at the end of the nineteenth century, the landscape remains very much the same, created and cared for by those that farmed it, along with the country sports of hunting and shooting.

 Characters of the villages are fewer these days, but I remember Ernie Bayliss, who farmed with three brothers. His tweed cap was worn backwards to milk the cows, and then swivelled round with the peak forward for market days and best.

Richard Fonge.



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