October on the farm (2022)

Black Bryony on Moreton Road

Richard Fonge writes:

What a wonderful Autumn we are having, with the colours of the season showing up in our hedges and woodlands. The hedgerow fruits are bountiful this year along with the apple crop, although the sloes do not seem so plentiful, for those of you wanting to make the sloe gin. The field mushroom has been scarce, as the weather conditions have not been conducive. Field mushrooms picked early morning and eaten for breakfast with bacon and egg cannot be beaten, especially after a morning milking.

Farmers are now sowing their winter corn. Barley off Park lane, and wheat up the Moreton road, and after the beans on the Stuchbury path. How do I know? Crops need to be grown in rotation ideally. Whilst you can grow barley and to a lesser extent wheat continuously, to maximise yield and reduce disease it is better to rotate. 

An update on the Zwartable ewe mentioned in last months notes. She was bought for the owners’ baby boy. An easily identifiable present!

As a child of the fifties, being brought up on a farm, I have seen agriculture and therefore the country way of life change greatly, perhaps none more so than in any other comparable era. Farms were then mainly mixed farms, with most having a dairy herd, with thirty cows a sizeable herd. Farming was a very physical occupation then, with limited mechanisation. Today it is often portrayed by the romantics as this idyllic way of life. Granted the pace of life was slower but not for the faint hearted . It was hard but rewarding with companionship as you worked, whereas as today it’s a very lonely occupation for many.

As a child I grew up with new life, death and mating,as part of every day life, making you appreciate the wonder of nature and it’s power. Cows in those days had names, and so I as a seven year old when asked by my teacher to write what the main event of the weekend was, I wrote “The bull went for a ride on Mary”.

Villages such as Sulgrave had a population most of whom worked or had a connection to the land. The names of villagers of that time were of interest, with two or three names dominating each community. This has been highlighted to me in reading Martin Sirrot Smith’s excellent cricket history of Marston st Lawrence and Greatworth, where the teams of that time and earlier were made up of only two or three names in many cases.

Much has changed in the interim but Sulgrave remains a rural village, steeped in its past history.

Richard Fonge



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