The Countryside About Us - May 1997

posted 5 May 2017, 04:10 by Chris Hoare
Judging the year as far as April it hasn’t been a bad spring at all. Farms and gardens would benefit from more rain. Nevertheless even with so little moisture, generally speaking, wheat, oil seed rape and winter beans are thriving. Meadows destined for a hay crop have been top dressed with a few units of nitrogen. The warmer days we will see the grass grow apace. In the garden the early potatoes are just pushing through and onions and parsnips are well away.

Did you notice how splendid the sallow or pussy willows showed up early this year. There are some good specimens around by the various streams. Their oval bright yellow catkins appear in March and make a splash of welcome bright yellow colours at a time when even the white flowers of the blackthorn blossom have not reached their best. Along Church Lane, a road used more frequently just lately whilst the more normal route to Framlingham remains barricaded, the hedgerow immediately on the right, viewed from the field side, was a solid wall of blackthorn flowers for almost 100 yards. During late March it was quite magnificent. Further along and in the shelter of a woodside, white violets offered a more shy and subtle hint of springtime. The countryside about us even overflowed into the doctor’s waiting room in March! Outside the sunshine warmed up a chilly early morning. Four of us waited patiently for the doctor whose arrival had been delayed. The conversation quickly turned to things of an ornithological nature. “I found a dead thrush the other morning with no sign of any injury” a lady declared. We speculated as to the reason for its demise. Maybe a glancing blow from a passing vehicle had been the cause, which is a pity as thrushes seem in short supply. “My husband goes into the garden after dark sometimes and imitates the hoot of an owl, and even gets a reply sometimes, so he must be good!” declared another. This prompted me to try it there and then but I fear no owl will respond to my call. Much advice was offered to another whose bird table seemed to attract a marauding sparrow hawk. He could so easily catch small bird’s intent on feeding. We felt the best solution was to move the bird table to a less exposed position in the garden.

Of course, especially in the springtime, when much is being born and new life begins, so the sadness of death can often be in close attendance. The calf’s birth had been quite normal and unaided by the owner. Its mother was possessive and concerned with plenty of that all important colostrum for the creature’s first feeds. For some reason the little chap had no desire to partake of that first most essential feed of colostrum or “beestings” from his mum. We gently put him in a wheelbarrow and moved him into “intensive care” which was a nest of soft hay under an infra red lamp. Artificial feeding was tried but all to no avail. During the second night of his life he died and a new life was lost.

Roger Sykes

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