The Countryside About Us - January 1998

posted 1 Jan 2018, 07:52 by Earl Soham Web Admin   [ updated 2 Jan 2018, 02:27 ]

When you patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, follow a lorry along theA1120 laden with sugarbeet, remember when you place a 

packet of sugar in your shopping basket , where the sugar come from ! The grower of your pound or kilo of sugar would welcome the very wet weekend towards the end of November. The 1.5” (38mm) rain which fell in those couple of days, will have made lifting the beet a much easier task for the machinery. A farmer a few miles north of Framlingham told me that before the rains came to soften up the ground, lifting the beet created much wear and tear on the blades to the extent that the shares were replaced daily. However, such is the march of progress that tungsten coated lifting blades are now available. They will last a whole season regardless of the abrasive nature of the rock hard ground. During the growing season, with the hours of uninterrupted sunshine, the sugar content of the beet is well above the average of 17%. This helped to make up the revenue for the lighter weight of the crop because of the lack of rain. After the sugarbeet has been cleared from the field, the ground will be given over to “set aside” or possible drilled in early spring with oil seed rape, maybe to finish up as bio fuel. All of that is a far cry from the time when a farm labourer, legs encased in sacking, back bent and a beet hook in his hand, deftly cut off the leafy crown of the root and threw the trimmed beet into a heap. From there it would be forked into a horse drawn tumbrel, tipped at the field headland awaiting a 10 ton maximum capacity lorry, to transport it to the factory! 

You may have noticed in a meadow during November whilst going up Mill Hill out of Earl Soham, some lambs. They were the offspring of Jacob ewes, crossed with a Texel ram. These rams originate from the Netherlands “Isle of Texel” and are world famous for their muscle development and lean meat. Eventually the lambs will be sold under the “Organic” label, their care and feeding complying with the strict requirements to qualify for the premium their meat will command. 

It is strange that whilst we see so many wild birds and that their life span is relatively short. they mostly seem to vanish when they die. Not so a barn owl that was found near Moat Farm, whose allotted span was either up or the victim of some other cause of death. Not long afterwards I spotted another one very much alive in the same area, but maybe mourning for its mate. It drifted about the meadows in the gathering November dusk.

 Roger Sykes