December on the farm (2022)


Beef cattle safely in for the winter

Richard Fonge writes:

A month where nothing much happens in the countryside and the agricultural world. It is a month when the maintenance of hedges and boundaries are trimmed and repaired. Please take note of the excellent workmanship that can be seen in the erection of the new stock fencing up the Moreton Road and on the Barrow hill footpath in readiness for sheep grazing next spring.

We live in an area where there is a great patchwork of fields, divided by hedges .

At times landowners and farmers are blamed for the removal of hedges, but as with so many other things in life, there needs to be perspective. 

In the late sixties and early seventies as the size of machinery grew, and Government was concerned about growing enough food, they produced a ‘ White Paper’ named “ Food from our own resources”. as they were concerned that within twenty five years, we would be deficient in food. To that end one of their initiatives was pay farmers a grant of up to 30% in the cost of draining, and hedge removal. In some cases it was more, as I can recollect. This increased efficiency of power and labour and increased the area of cultivatable land.

In the last twenty years a great many hedges and trees have been planted by landowners, as they are the true guardians of the countryside and feel a great responsibility to it. Please note what seems like a total disregard of our countryside by HS2 (High Speed Rail construction), where hedges and trees are bulldozed out of the way at random!

The beef cattle seen in the fields until recently are now housed for the winter, where their main food will be silage, supplemented by manufactured cake or a home mix ration. It is important that they are fed a balanced ration, for their growth and maturity into a finished product for the consumer.

Grass is analysed for its energy and protein levels, and then a supplementary feed is added accordingly. Animal nutrition is a complex subject so I will leave it at that.

I do hope these monthly notes are of interest, as my reason for writing them is to try and inform those of you new to the countryside, what is happening around you, with hopefully a bit of inside information

A true story of a retired local smallholder who was deaf and wore a patch over one eye. His two younger brothers bought him a colour television when they first came out, and when asked why: they replied. “ Our Charlie be deaf and blind so us bought him one to keep him happy.”

Finally may I wish you all a happy Christmas, with the hope that the New year is not as grim as the forecasters predict.

Richard Fonge.



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