May on the Farm (2024)

HS2 so-called “Green Tunnel” under construction at the bottom of the huge cutting which is devastating the countryside between Sulgrave and Greatworth:
Photo: Colin Wootton

Richard Fonge writes:

We are coming to the end of a lovely warm spell, much appreciated after the last few months of rain and chill. The countryside I always feel looks at its best in early May with the freshness of the new foliage.

The better weather has come too late for the planting of the land up the gated road. This is an area of some 150 acres or 60 hectares. A sizeable area to have no income from. Official figures forecast that cereal production will be down by 17% this year because of the wet winter and spring. Although we changed from imperial to metric all those years ago, land is still advertised and sold in acres mainly. One hectare equals 2.47 acres. Also at pedigree stock auctions, the animals are sold in guineas. £1.05 pence equals a Guinea.

The majority of sheep flocks, and to an extent beef and dairy herds, are commercial. To be a pedigree flock or herd you must have kept the breeding lines and records for many years to prove the origin of your stock. Once approved as a pedigree breeder the farmer can prefix the herd or flock with a suitable name. So my younger sister Susan and husband Dennis after establishing a dairy herd on their farm in Kentucky U.S.A called it the Stuchbury herd of pedigree Holsteins.

This does not mean that commercial stock are badly bred, far from it. The selection of sires and females is most important, because the farmer is producing a product, whether that be milk or meat, that has to be to the high standard demanded and expected of the consumer, and commercially viable and profitable for the business he operates.

The agricultural show season soon begins, but sadly the Kenilworth Show which I have been involved with for nearly forty years is no longer, as a site can’t be found, due to that great destroyer of our countryside HS2 going through our present site. Agricultural shows are the industry’s shop window, where stock are shown, machinery displayed and all things countryside are in evidence. It gives the farming industry an opportunity to meet with their customers, explain by word and demonstration what we are about as food producers and guardians of the countryside.

Richard Fonge


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