The Countryside About Us: July 1995

posted 30 Jun 2015, 12:16 by James Mansell
It is not too soon to speculate on maybe a good cereal harvest. Indeed, the gardener’s “reaping” has been underway for some time. Most of us who do battle with the vicissitudes of growing some of our vegetables have already tasted the fruits of our struggles.  Early cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce, radish and even potatoes (if the late April frost allowed) have enhanced our meals with that unique flavour that only freshly gathered produce can bestow.  In spite of the very best attempts to capture “freshness” by the “agribusiness” concerns, using all the technology that is readily to hand these days, somehow the first freshness of the produce escapes.  Of course the prime concern of the arable farmer was always the cereal harvest. Nowadays, however, the oil seed rape crop ripens before the winter barley and is the first to fall to the onslaught of the combine harvester. I still wonder at the fact that just 6 lbs of seed per acre, drilled in August or September the previous year can produce just 10 or 11 months later some 3000 lbs of seed for processing into oil!

The great annual event of the farming calendar in our County, the Suffolk Show, is now but a memory. What an occasion it is for so many different reasons.  For some it is the meeting of acquaintances perhaps not seen since the previous year’s show that makes the day memorable. For others it is the chance to see close up livestock at their very best or see again some breeds that no longer feature in our everyday lives.  As we watched the Grand Parade of prize winning cattle and heavy horses the looks of quiet pride and satisfaction on the faces of the handlers said it all! Our Parishes were especially well represented with significant winners in the Charolais cattle classes and the Hunter Pony Breeding Class. What is more both the Charolais heifer and the pony were both born here too!  Not to be outdone the WI flower arranging class also met with success. Altogether an event to reflect upon with much pleasure and satisfaction.

We miss a lot of what nature has to offer by spending most of the night in bed!  Well, not everyone, because ones calling can sometimes mean that when you and I are up and about others may well be catching up on their sleep. A friend of mine, who finds himself returning home in the small hours from a nights work tells me it is the best time of all to see much that is hidden during the day. However, even he admits to be somewhat taken aback by what he clearly witnessed around midnight a few weeks ago. Sitting upright on its hind legs was in a gateway by the roadside in Brandeston Road, an otter!  He is quite convinced of it and was able to view it clearly for some seconds.  The rivers were running quite high at the time and quite possibly this carnivore had progressed down from the higher reaches of the Deben. Another carnivore, albeit rather less welcome, and certainly more numerous, is the fox. One would have thought that nature would have provided enough prey for its appetite with an abundance of rabbits, but not so. A sadly depleted flock of poultry and a trail of feathers greeted an Earl Soham resident one recent spring morning. Later remains of its evil deed were discovered in a field over a mile away.

Roger Sykes