The Countryside About Us April 1999

posted 1 Apr 2019, 06:44 by Earl Soham Web Admin
Living in our parishes there are, naturally, folk who have been resident for many years. Indeed, some were born and continue to live their lives in this same locality. Their memories are rich in recollections of yesteryear. Recently I have been recording some of their memories and quite fascinating it has been. How amazing it is to hear stories of the countryside about us which was in rather a different guise than we see it today. 80 years ago there were several farms within this parish, most of whom had dairy herds (not even one remains) and milk was collected from the farm dairy by the villagers. Suffolk horses provided the pulling power, and after a strenuous day, they waded into the horse pond where now stands a house in Brandeston Road. Cropping was much the same with the exception of no eye catching yellow fields of oil seed rape in May and June. Potatoes, sugarbeet, beans and cereals were part of a rotation which is now largely, but not entirely, replaced by wheat and rape. Children played on the small green at the foot of Mill Hill, which now would be in the middle of that precarious junction! In a cold winter the mere was deliberately flooded and skaters zoomed about on the ice. Candles in jars on the ice lit their way in the evenings. Everything villagers needed was to hand in the village. Forge, school, church, chapel, pub, shops (including a bicycle shop) and a cobbler. Oil lamps and well water were the norm. The doctor had a wooden leg which he removed each night when he went to bed. As a consequence he was reluctant to turn out during the night because it was a struggle to put his leg back on! How our lives have changed in so many respects. How many of us would like to return to those “good old days” I wonder? If only we could be selective what a perfect life it would be!

Our parish still supports quite a respectable number of sheep. Some are resident, whilst another flock that has lambed early, puts in an appearance on rented grass from time to time. Lambing is an anxious period for flock owners. However, the trauma of sorting out difficult births and bottle feeding orphan lambs is quickly forgotten when on a sunny April day ewes and mischievous lambs can be viewed as another lambing season well done. The financial rewards are quite another matter.

Over 3.6 inches (92mm) of rain by early March suggests the very wet soil will delay both gardener and farmer in their spring sowing plans. Nature seems to eventually strike her own balance. Does this mean a very dry summer? Only time will tell.

Roger Sykes