The Countryside About Us July 1997

posted 27 Jun 2017, 08:38 by Chris Hoare

The year is already half gone. The rape and the grain harvest are the next important events in the farming year. Thanks to well timed rain that interrupted an almost continuous drought, crops look “set fair” for good yields at harvest time. That statement alone should indicate the writer is not a farmer! It courts disaster to make such predictions even at this late stage. No farmer would dare to make any such suggestion but rather wait until “all is safely gathered in.” Remember what happened to early potatoes. A late vicious frost and they were early no more. Field and garden became the victims of that cruel night in early May. Some say the drive to being earlier every year has gone too far. Techniques such as covering potatoes with sheets of polythene and varieties bred to be more quickly maturing pays too little regard for what nature can so quickly do to cancel out the man-made advantage.

Now that our highways authorities have begun to spare some of our roadside verges from the “short back and sides” treatment, wild flowers have been allowed to establish themselves again. The ox-eye daisy, vetch with its purple flower and black seed, poppy, red campion, ragged robin and now even oil seed rape has entrenched itself to brighten up the roadsides and lanes in our parishes. This in turn attracts many species of butterflies. A few weeks ago if you had taken a wander long the nearest “B” road they were there to admire. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the countryside may sometimes take for granted what surrounds us. Friends visiting us recently from a North London suburb were delighted by the” naturalness” of it all. They have to be content with manicured parks and regimented flower beds. Hopefully, hedgerows too will receive no attention from the flail until mid winter. This will then provide a harvest in the autumn for birds and small mammals. Next time you take the road to Ipswich via Helmingham admire the hedgerow care on that estate, from Framsden to almost Ashbocking.

The small river, running via Low Road, the Low Meadows and on to Brandeston described recently by our local newspaper as “unnamed” is known to us I think, as the River Ken. Very little water progresses along its way and sedge and reed is rampant. However, minnows are now plentiful in almost every art of the stream where the water runs a little deeper. This speaks well for its purity. These miniscule fish, usually facing the flow of the water to feed, dart for cover under the vegetation at the least disturbance. Even tadpoles in mid May were amongst them, showing no leg development at that stage. The occasional pair of mallard and moorhen frequent the waterways, but I have not disturbed a heron for sometime.

Roger Sykes