Archive for the ‘News’ Category

September on the farm (2022)

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

Swallows photographed by John Sheppard

Richard Fonge writes:

September has brought some welcome rain. Our lawns like the grass fields around us are greening up. Grass at this time of the year, has little nutritional value to livestock, compared to the spring when it is high in protein. It satisfies the appetite hence the farming term for it of (fill belly). Cattle and sheep still grow and mature on it but not to the same extent as on spring grass. The most notable example is in the dairy cow’s production of milk. In spring grass she would produce up to 25 litres of milk a day from grass whereas in the autumn it would only maintain the cow with supplementary feed needed to produce the same amount of milk.

The arable fields on the Barrow hill walk have been sown back to grass, as part of a new government conservation scheme. It is also worth noting how quickly the hedge along the Banbury lane to Weston has re-grown in one summer, along with the new planting. Hard cutbacks look vicious at the time, but nature soon re-establishes itself.

On the Stuchbury footpath the rams have gone in to mate with the mule ewes on the 15th September, making the first lambs due on the 7th of February, but there is one interloper amongst them. A Zwartable ewe. These sheep with their distinctive black body, white blaze down the face and four white socks and white tail tip originate from Friesland in Northern Holland, and have become increasingly more popular in recent years as breeding sheep, and can also be farmed for milk production. A friend of mine’s late wife built up a flock some ten years ago with great success. It is always good to see another breed or option to your enterprise being tried out. This may be just a single ewe, with others in another flock, but Farmers are generally open to new ideas of production and management to take their business forward. As my old owner used to say to me, never be afraid to try something new after costing and research, but if it fails, don’t go a second time.

The swallows have now gone to South Africa, and what an amazing migratory bird they are. They arrive around the 10th of April, nest in the same barns (providing they haven’t been converted into houses), and then in late August they start to gather on the telephone lines before flying off to South Africa. This year on my morning walk a dozen or so gathered on the lines up the Moreton rd, to begin with and by the 9th of September they had increased to over eighty. They were there at 8.15 on my way out, and had flown off when I came back twenty minutes later. Who gave the call to go?

Now here’s a likely story. In the fifties a Greatworth man of doubtful integrity was called the “Bird Man”. It was said he caught small birds, coloured them yellow and sold them as canaries!

Richard Fonge

PROCLAMATION OF THE ACCESSION OF KING CHARLES III. Parish of Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom. Sunday 11th September 2022

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Villagers begin to arrive in the churchyard ready for the announcement



Parish Council Chairman Richard Fonge welcomes everyone and begins with an eloquent appreciation of the life of Her late Majesty and also the recent actions and words of the new King Charles III. He also explains that the union flag is required to fly from the top of the mast during the accession proclamation but will resume its half mast position thereafter for the rest of the mourning period.

The ceremony continues with a moving prayer by Churchwarden Shrimp Christy followed by a minute’s silence for her late Majesty, during which the only sound is the faint flapping of the damp flag against the flag staff.

See next page for details of the proclamation itself and more photos of those present.

Remember to click on “Read the rest of this item”


Very sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, today, 8th September 2022

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II. 1926 – 2022

It has been announced by Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth II has died. The Parish Council and the people of Sulgrave are deeply saddened to hear the sad news of the passing of our much loved monarch. The flag on the flagpole in the churchyard is being flown at half-mast and a Book of Condolence will be opened at the Church for those who wish to pay their respects.

Richard Fonge. Chair, Sulgrave Parish Council


Prolisok Ukranian Dance Ensemble perform on Castle Green

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

On a glorious late summer afternoon, villagers and visitors alike were privileged to witness a scintillating performance of traditional songs and dances by the Prolisok Ukranian Dance Ensemble. Those present were captivated by both the energy and the grace of the performers, demonstrating universal support for the dancers and their country in its hour of need.

In 2018 the ensemble became the official London Ukrainian Dance Group on behalf of the Association of  Ukrainians in Great Britain, performing contrasting dances celebrating the diversity and soul of Ukrainian culture in a wide variety of venues.


Castle Green decorated in Ukrainian national colours.


Parish Council Chairman Richard Fonge welcomes the performers….


…who enrapture the onlookers with the colours of the dresses….


…..and the smartness of the tunics.


See next page for more pictures of Prolisok and other entertainments on the day.

Click on (more…)

An Evening with Paul Wilkinson, recent UK Portrait Photographer of the Year

Monday, August 29th, 2022


Wednesday, August 17th, 2022


A fund raising event for the Ukrainian Appeal will be held from 1 pm to 5 pm on Castle Green.

The Star Attraction will be the Ukrainian


who perform contrasting dances celebrating the diversity and soul of Ukrainian culture. In 2018 they became the official London Ukrainian Dance Group on behalf of the Association of of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

Other entertainments include:

Raffle, Tea and Cake Stand, Skittles, Sports Day Games for children, Dog Show, Morris dancers, music and much more


The Star Inn for drinks and Websters Events for food.

Free admission and free car parking.

All monies raised will go to the Ukrainian Appeal. There will be a “bucket collection” so remember to bring those coins which simply don’t get used these days. Every little helps.

This event is being organised by village volunteers on behalf of the Parish Council.


Note from Richard Fonge, Chairman of the Parish Council:

It has been quite a coup to get Prosolik, the Ukrainian Dance Ensemble to come Sulgrave to perform their traditional dances in National costume…..this is a wonderful opportunity for Sulgrave to show its support to a Nation and people in need through no fault of their own. The Star pub had already led the way with their initiative of support.

August on the farm (2022)

Monday, August 15th, 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.

Village Shop Newsletter for August 2022

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

July on the farm (2022)

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Harvest in Full Swing (Photo: Graham Roberts)

Richard Fonge writes:

The present weather takes me back to 1976 when we had three months of sun and high temperatures, the only difference being that we just got on with life. A drought was declared and a Minister appointed called Dennis Howell M.P, a former first class football referee. Soon after his appointment it started to rain in September and he was dealing with floods! The severe hot weather brought swarms of ladybirds looking for food as the aphids their main supply had perished in the heat.

Back to the present and harvest has started on Barrow hill with the barley. The grain here will be fed to livestock. The straw (the stalks) is a valuable commodity. It is used for bedding, but barley straw is also a good feed and especially in a year such as this as a substitute to grass as it burns up under the sun. Pour some molasses over it and you have a nutritious feed for cattle or sheep.

On the Stuchbury footpath the beans like all crops are dying off rather than ripening. The pod numbers are good but due to the lack of rain over the last month, like all other crops the seeds are small.

All the lambs in the first field have now been marketed, leaving the ewes to their own devices. 

The oilseed rape on the Moreton or gated rd has extra value this year with the shortage of sunflower oil coming from Ukraine.

Grain when stored has to be at a certain dry matter. 16% for short term. 14% for long term storage. Oilseed rape. 8%. This year all grain should be harvested at these levels if these weather conditions continue, saving money on drying costs.

Especially welcome this year with fuel at its present price.

Farms get bigger as does the machinery to run them. This is inevitable with the shortage of people wanting to work on the land. In this part of the country we have family farms, large estates and contracted farms and they all share a problem of finding staff. A concern for the future.

Believe me there is not a more rewarding job than seeing the fruits of your labours when they are harvested,  whether that be a vat full of milk each morning or a field of corn harvested or prime livestock being marketed.

Richard Fonge

Sulgrave Village Shop Newsletter for July 2022

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022