The Countryside About Us June 1997

posted 26 May 2017, 00:49 by Chris Hoare
The first time a swallow, newly arrived from Africa, appeared on our telephone wire this year was on April 12th, two weeks earlier than last year’s arrivals. Already, a pair, remarkably tame, was building a nest in my pony’s stable. I wish I could be certain that they were the same birds, or their offspring, as last year. A pair of house martins zoomed about the overhang of the eaves of our house, assessing the spot for a likely nest to be built. A cuckoo declared its arrival with a familiar call on May 4th. Now I am looking for the flycatchers. They usually appear a month after the swallows. On April 18th a newly fledged robin was receiving much attention from its anxious parents. How bold and trusting these “Christmas” birds are. This was nicely demonstrated to me recently when a friend who lives in Earl Soham Street opened his back door and held out his hand on which he had placed a tit bit. Within seconds this “tame” bird alighted on his outstretched palm snatched up the morsel and was away. 

You may hardly bother to give a second thought, or even first thought, glancing at the sugarbeet growing in fields near Saxtead Mill. However, I am sure if you were of the generation that laboured under a hot May sun “chopping out” and “singling” you could not help but reflect on the changing times. Now precision drilling has replaced hours of working with a hoe reducing the continuous rows of sugarbeet plants first to small groups and then to a single plant each to be about 9” from its neighbour. Even a 10 acre field looked like a vast plain when first the task began. Now the farm worker’s aching back and arms are but a memory. The Queen’s birthday parade could hardly look more precise than the sugarbeet fields of today. Precision drilling is now well established. The drill places each seed 9 inches from its neighbour, each row 27 inches apart.. Serried ranks of plants require no manual labour at all. The gossip of village news between the farm workers as they methodically progressed along the endless rows in echelon is no more. 

Do you remember the mare Selime ? She was due to have her foal towards the end of April. Long before the expected time of birh her owner checked her every day, early and late. A “full time” birth was expected. Imagine then the surprise and delight when one morning,, she was greeted by, not the usual friendly “whinney” from Seline in her stable, but a newly born healthy filly foal as well, lying in the straw ! Tiggy the foal, for that is now her name, had arrived two weeks early. The dark coloured filly never looked back. Although ”mum” had to have some veterinary attention, she is now well and proudly rearing her leggy energetic offspring in a grassy paddock.       

Roger Sykes