The Countryside About Us - February 1999

posted 27 Jan 2019, 08:51 by Earl Soham Web Admin
There are some exceedingly pleasant tracks and countryside in the area that lies between the road to Brandeston from Earl Soham and the back road to Framlingham. Footprints I noticed in the mud suggest others occasionally pass that way, but to meet someone is unlikely. There are some good thick hedgerows hereabouts and as usual a dozen or more long tailed tits were making their chattering way amongst the top growth. Along a track bordering a field known as Home Mow on the 1841 tithe map, three roe deer, alerted by my approach, bounded into this field instead of running away. They turned, curious to see who or what was the intruder. My dog and I stood stock still! So did they. For what seemed an interminable age, we confronted each other without a twitch of a muscle from either group. Who was going to make the first move? Now certain a threat possibly presented itself to them they bounded away. Pausing for a final look from a safe distance they vanished into a nearby copse. Later we passed a field where a flock of Scotch half-bred ewes were grazing. They will lamb down in early March, the surest sign of all, when the lambs appear, that springtime has arrived at last.

There is certainly no deficit of soil moisture in early January 1999. Field drains and rivers are running freely. Water stands on the low parts of the arable fields to the detriment of the crop. The roots of winter sown cereals will not send down their roots in search of water. Consequently, if a dry period asserts itself later, shallow rooted winter wheat will suffer more readily. The total rainfall I recorded in 1998 in the gauge near my small pond was 22.5 inches (565mm). Other more exposed locations would have registered rather more.

In the January Parish magazine there was a fine tribute paid to the late Cyril Fisk of Cretingham. I regret I did not know him personally. However, reading the story of his rural life made it quite clear what a grand old countryman he was. How the farm workers’ skills of his day have changed from manual dexterity and local knowledge that he undoubtedly possessed to the different expertise required in this technological age. A.G.Street, that fine rural author of the 1930s wrote a novel entitled “Gentleman of the Party”. It is not difficult to transpose the character in this story to Cyril Fisk.

You probably have been supplying feed for the wild birds during this winter time. You may well continue to do this all the year round . Why not also provide a small container filled with moss, pieces of wool and so forth, which will be a source of nesting material for the garden birds, and a focus of entertainment for you.

Roger Sykes