August on the farm (2022)

Maize at Stuchbury

Richard Fonge writes:

We are now officially in a drought, with harvest complete all around us. The harvest this year has been by all accounts a very satisfactory one, with the biggest concern being the fear of a fire. With the ground so dry and rock hard, no cultivations will be taking place until we have had some substantial rain. Oilseed rape needs to be planted by the end of August to get it established by winter, so a major concern.

The Agriculture industry (because that’s what farming is), is very fortunate in that it is visible to all as we go about our daily lives, and it is also able through local and National shows to open out and showcase our stock and machinery. Blakesley show earlier this month was a great example of this. I have been for nearly forty years a committee member and officer of an agricultural show, where getting across to the general public the countryside message has been one of our core aims and in September a good friend of mine whom I have worked with at the show and on other voluntary initiatives will be preaching at Sulgrave harvest festival. Dr Gordon Gatward O.B.E. is not only a priest but a true practical countryman with an understanding second to none of the countryside and its rural people. Well worth a listen, when we celebrate our harvest.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, and whilst the countryside that surrounds us is not spectacular in any way, it has a beauty all of its own, especially to those who have grown up in this area. The view from Barrow Hill is a good example.

Maize or corn as it is known in the rest of the world, has three varietal types. The cobs grown for human consumption and known as sweetcorn, need sunnier climes than ours (in more normal years) to be a success commercially. The types grown here are for stock feed or as can be seen at Stuchbury for energy generation through an anaerobic digester. Here the whole plant is chopped, whereas for human use just the cobs are picked. Badger damage in the crop at Stuchbury is extensive and can be seen where they have flattened the crop with their big paws to get at the cobs. There must be an army of them feeding at night!

Finally viewing nature and wildlife in action can be both inspiring and realistic in the way of things. An example: A young leveret was seen last month on Barrow Hill in the grass but on a second glance a buzzard had swooped and taken him.

Richard Fonge.



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