The Countryside About Us April 1998

posted 30 Mar 2018, 13:27 by Chris Hoare

The population of sheep in Earl Soham parish has increased markedly during mid February some early lambs being born. Sheep are excellent “lawn mowers” being non selective grazers. Horses on the other hand are very selective, so it makes sense to follow up with sheep on grassland which has had horses on it for some time. Sheep are also very good at escaping from where they should be to places where they are not supposed to be! Another skill they have is entangling themselves up in briars and wire. I am not alone in finding one helplessly waiting to be cut free from such a predicament. This particular flock has managed to explore much of the surrounding countryside! This lot seems a mixed bunch of breeds with a good number of black and off white Jacobs together with some cross bred Southdowns and black faced Suffolks. In late February a few new born lambs appeared amongst them, with the mild days suiting them nicely.

In the adjoining field there have been sometimes quite large flocks of fieldfares and redwings. Quite the most numerous I have seen for a long time. They descend quite suddenly and just as suddenly all take off to new feeding grounds. By now they will have all returned to Scandinavian countries to nest. Regrettably I no longer see any lapwings (pewits) in this area at all. They used to be such a feature of our winter landscapes hereabouts.

Lambs were not the only new arrivals. On a farm not far away some plastic guttering and a new born calf would see a rather unlikely combination. Nevertheless such was the case. A heifer calf was safely born, but it quickly became apparent that she could not stand unaided to suckle her mother. As sometimes happens, tight ligaments did not permit the straightening and use of her front feet. The vet, by carefully padding plastic guttering to use as splints for the front legs, enabled the calf to support itself and slowly “stretch” the tight ligaments. Quite soon she was able to stand unaided. A good example of improvisation I thought.

We are still experiencing a “stop start” rainfall. January produced a respectable 2” (51mm) but February was incredibly dry, just under ¼ inches (6mm). In fact during the second night of March we had as much rain as during the whole of February!

One of the best books I have read about a family farm during World War 11 is entitled “Heartbreak Farm” by Francis Mountford. Whilst the story concerns a particular farm, the situation was by no means unique. It is available from Framlingham library and a really good “read”.

Roger Sykes