The Countryside About Us - January 1997

posted 4 Jan 2017, 06:26 by Chris Hoare
“Like a mighty river flowing” is the first line of a popular modern hymn. Whilst we have no “mighty” rivers flowing through our Parishes, at least the waterways we do have are at last producing more than a trickle. It is good to see the Canadian pond weed and milfoil bending with the water flow again. Ponds will also need much more rainfall to get them to their previous levels. But at least there is mud on our boots again and water running out of field drains. The tree enthusiasts have been busy planting alder, ash, oak, and field maple, witness the roadside verge towards Saxtead and elsewhere. Replacing trees that failed to survive last summer’s drought has been a very necessary task.

The water pump that now stands proudly on Earl Soham village green has been reinstated after an altercation with a vehicle. Years past it assumed a much greater importance than now. A friend who was born in the village tells me it was a vital part of the water supply for Little Green residents until just before WW11 began. The water came from an underground reservoir. Whether it ever ran dry I know not, but it must have been a good spot to meet and exchange village gossip, whilst you pumped up the water to fill your buckets. Certainly I am confident there was no need to look out for fast moving traffic as you made your way back to Little Green! Another pump still stands on the Townlands Trust allotment field by the tennis court. They make a nice link with yesteryear, especially for those folk who remember them from their childhood days. Elsewhere wells provide the domestic water needs of the villagers.

It can be a somber business walking the footpaths in late December and early January. Yet there is much to see. A few hips and haws linger on providing feed for the resident blackbirds and visiting redwings which fly away as I approach. Tits are busily searching the willow trees for insect life. The set aside headlands are a useful source of small seeds for the finches. It is not unusual, to startle from the river side a lanky legged heron and sometimes a snipe will rocket away at great speed. A barn owl continues to make his dignified patrols appearing almost luminous as dusk approaches. The various winter drilled crops seem to be off to a good start, in particular oil seed rape. It is quite lush and small areas, usually near trees will be grazed by appreciative pigeons who pay little regards to the noisy gas guns that are lined up against them. Cattle that have been grazing the meadows are now housed in their yards to save the grass from being ruined by their cloven hooves. Ewes continue to graze their pastures but require some supplementary feeding with hay to keep their condition for a successful lambing time in the early spring. Now that IS something to look forward too.

Roger Sykes