November on the farm (2019)

November 18th, 2019

Cattle cudding in the shade on a hot afternoon

Richard Fonge writes:

November has been so far very wet, following on from an abnormally wet October. The result of which is that a lot of land has not been planted. Most winter wheat varieties can be planted up to February, as long as the plant has a period of vernalisation. Vernalisation is when plants are subjected to some frosts, without which they would not flower and therefore produce fruit.

The countryside that surrounds us may not be spectacular, but it has a natural beauty and serenity of its own, which can be appreciated so much more as you walk the many footpaths that radiate from the village. The countryside is in the main formed by those that farm it, which in turn is defined by Government policy, and at present we are having to balance the need to produce high quality food and environmental concerns.

Here in Sulgrave we have wild flower meadows on the Barrow Hill footpath. Grass margins around arable fields, a disused railway and plenty of permanent pasture, especially on the walk down the bridle lane to Weston. All these features encourage wildlife diversity. Grants are given to landowners to take land out of production and put it into an environmental scheme, which will have its own rules and monitoring from inspectors.

This balance between the two elements is vital for our well being. Indeed one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint is to eat locally produced food, and reduce the food miles where it is at all possible.

An interesting fact. In 1946 there were 41 million dairy cows producing milk for 150 million plus Americans. Today 9 million cows do the same thing for 350 million and the ratio is much the same for the U.K.

Cattle with their four stomachs have the ability to re-gurgitate their food and chew it again, an action known as cudding, which produces gases proven to be detrimental to the environment to a greater or lesser degree, but the numbers above show who has done more damage, I would suggest.

There is nothing more pleasing and satisfying for a farmer, when looking round his animals, whether that be cattle or sheep, than to see them lying down cudding. Their contentment tells  all is well with their world.

Richard Fonge.

Click here to see an updated map from the “Village Walks” page on this website showing the footpaths and bridleways referred to in Richard’s article. A further click on the map will show a bigger version.

Sulgrave Village Calendar 2020 now on sale at the Village Shop.

November 10th, 2019

Countryside Alliance Awards 2019 – Sulgrave Village Shop

November 7th, 2019

The Countryside Alliance Awards (AKA ‘The Rural Oscars’) are now open for nominations for 2019. Sulgrave Village Shop and Post Office has been selected as a regional finalist for the past two years but are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky and that this year we can go one step further and reach the national finals. Selection depends to a large extent on the number of nominations received and on the enthusiasm expressed in those nominations. We would therefore like as many people as possible to nominate the shop for selection in the “Village Shop and Post Office” category. If you would like to do so, please go to:

and complete the short nomination form. For reference the shop’s address is

Sulgrave Village Shop, Magpie Road, Sulgrave, Oxfordshire OX17 2RT

All that is required is a short entry on why you think the shop is so important to the community. 

Thank you for your help.

Sulgrave Village Shop Management Committee

Also see on next page (click on “read the rest of this entry”) for a few photographs of the very successful shop 15th anniversary party at Sulgrave Manor on 18th October 2019.

Read the rest of this entry »

Very Special Christmas Concert – Sulgrave Church – Saturday 23rd November at 7.00 pm. Get your tickets now!

November 3rd, 2019

October on the Farm (2019)

October 24th, 2019

Monthly notes on farming activities in and around Sulgrave have now been appearing on this website for two years. The author of these fascinating and informative notes is Richard Fonge, seen above in his role as commentator at Kenilworth Agricultural Show. From 1947 until 1975, Richard farmed with his father at Stuchbury Manor Farm. He then embarked on a long and varied career as a Farm Manager, the last 25 years of which was spent managing a farm at Kenilworth. He retired in 2010 and returned to live in Sulgrave. Richard was recently elected Chairman of Sulgrave Parish Council.

Richard’s Notes for October:

October has been so far a wet month, with showers and heavy rain. This has resulted in no wheat or indeed any other crop being planted. Wheat can be sown if conditions are right throughout the winter, but for barley and oats it is now too late and fields to be sown with these crops will have to wait until spring. The fields up the concrete road have been cultivated, this is when a set of tines and discs have been drawn through the ground, thereby disturbing the soil and breaking up the stubble residue from the previous crop, and in this particular case incorporating the lime that has been applied.

Lime as you will perhaps remember from my first notes is needed to keep the P.H. of the soil at the correct level. With G.P.S. being a part of all tractors, and the soil being tested for its nutrient values regularly it means that the lime in this case is applied at the correct rate to all parts of the field. It may be at two tonnes per acre down to zero. Therefore our satellite has a saving on inputs in many situations and the soil gets the required amount.

On the Stuchbury footpath in the field above the grass, different cultivations have taken place. The first third of the field has been planted grass, then we have a rough cultivated piece followed by our strip of wheat and then finally a strip of sanfoin. These two strips and the grass are part of an environmental scheme.

Up Barrow Hill the new crops will be drilled directly into the bean stubble, an alternative way of establishing a crop. The barrow at the top is now covered with grass and general vegetation after the eviction of the Badgers a few years ago. Badgers are much more prolific than they used to be partly due to the amount of maize being grown in and around the parish, with most of it being grown to create energy through anaerobic digesters. There is also the definite connection between tuberculosis in cattle and the badger, a contentious and sometimes emotive debate that has raged for many years. This year there have been two outbreaks in cattle in the area, resulting in the immediate slaughter of those infected animals. Regulations dictate that fields have to be empty for sixty days before restocking, so that is the reason for the absence of cattle in the usual fields. I hope and pray that these herds go clear at their next test for T.B. These are very worrying and stressful times for all concerned.

Finally I had the pleasure of judging a Farm Environmental Competition in the north Banbury area recently, and it is very encouraging to see the unheralded environmental work that is being done.

Richard Fonge

Sulgrave Village Shop. Volunteers needed.

October 17th, 2019

“If you have a couple of hours to spare each week and you are feeling the need for a little company and fun, why not consider helping out at your community shop? Volunteer sessions only last for a couple of hours and can be flexible enough to suit your personal needs.

You need not even commit to once a week. Some volunteers work a fortnightly shift or on an adhoc basis. Volunteering offers the opportunity to meet a wide range of people and to experience something a bit different and out of the ordinary for most of us. We would like to hear from you even if you don’t live in Sulgrave and you live in the surrounding villages then please get in touch.

Duties include serving behind the till, baking, date checking, helping with stock and if you are a little artistic then updating the display board would really help.

The shop is here for our community and that, of course, means you. Please think about it, and for further information please ring:

The Shop – 01295 760066

or speak to Natasha or Jeanette.

Or you could pop into the shop for a chat. There is always someone there to help and we would love to see you.”

Sulgrave Village Shop Committee

Harvest Supper. Saturday 5th October 2019 in the Church Hall

October 8th, 2019

Now a firmly established custom, on the eve of the Harvest Festival Service in the Church, Sulgrave friends and neighbours join together to celebrate a successful harvest, over supper in the Church Hall.

More pictures of this event on the next page (Click on “read the rest of this entry”). Read the rest of this entry »

September on the Farm (2019)

September 27th, 2019

Colin Russell with his 1939 Fordson Standard

Richard Fonge writes:

We are experiencing some wonderfully warm September weather after what has been in general a good harvest. The yields of wheat have been exceptional, with the wet of June coming at the right time to fill the grain as it was forming. Farming is so weather dependent to produce the food we need to live, and in this country we have a climate that allows us to produce such a wide variety of meats, vegetables and grain to satisfy our appetites.

In our parish of Sulgrave we have the soil type to grow the grains and the pastures to rear the beef and lamb and for dairying. Whilst we can grow vegetables in our gardens the land is totally unsuitable for vegetables and soft fruit production on a commercial scale.

At present there is a strong debate within society around the eating of meat, but what we must remember that to treasure our countryside as we see it now, is that we must strike a sensible balance. An eminent academic recently stated that we should plough up the pastures used for beef and lamb production and use them for vegetable growing. By doing so he showed his ignorance and lack of research into soil types.

The many walks we can take around the village pass through fields with a variety of crops and whilst we all have the right to choose our diet, please remember that farmers would not graze cattle and sheep for the fun of it.

The blackberries are abundant this year and I have noticed that the chestnuts have plenty of conkers. On the Stuchbury footpath a strip of wheat has been left unharvested, which is a bit of a mystery why, but I will find the reason for the October notes. The ewes have returned onto the grass field on that path ready to receive the rams.

Earlier this month an annual vintage ploughing match took place in the field on your way to the Magpie. Some two dozen ploughmen took part, keeping an old tradition alive. Their dedication to maintaining these old tractors and ploughs in working order has to be admired. It makes you realise how far we have come in the mechanisation of agriculture when you see today’s machines working the land or passing through the village.

Finally a friend of mine the Rev Dr Gatward is preaching at our Harvest Festival, he is a countryman as well as a priest, and definitely well worth a listen. The service will be held in the church on Sunday 6th October at 6.00 pm.

Richard Fonge

Replacement of Kenneth Tattersall’s Bench in Moreton Road.

September 18th, 2019

Kenneth Tattersall’s bench when first installed in 2003

In light of recent events up on Moreton Road (the gated road) concerning Kenneth Tattersall’s bench, the Parish Council would like to invite you all to a fundraising Coffee Morning with a Bring and Buy Sale to raise money in the hope of replacing the bench.

This will take place on Saturday 28th September at 10.30am until 12.30pm at the Church Hall.

If you would like to contribute a cake and/or something for the Bring and Buy sale then please get in contact with Laura North on 07554982871 or email on [email protected].

Despicable act of vandalism in Moreton Road.

September 9th, 2019

On Friday 6th September, probably during late evening, the seat installed along the Moreton Road to commemorate the late Kenneth Tattersall’s 80th birthday, was deliberately wrecked by a person or persons unknown. Whilst the plaque on the seat states that it was a birthday present from his two much loved dogs it also served as a memorial to a much respected villager with a distinguished war record. The seat marked the limit of his daily walk with the dogs right up to his death in 2013. It had become a valued feature for the many pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists who regularly use this little lane. For this reason, with the permission of Janet Tattersall, consideration is being given to ways of raising funds for the replacement of the seat so as to perpetuate his memory in a place he greatly loved in his declining years. See more details on the next page (click on “Read the rest of this entry”).

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