The Countryside About Us June 1999

posted 28 May 2019, 08:37 by Earl Soham Web Admin
Summer visitors to our part of the world come from a great variety of places. Some can be seen carefully studying maps, picnicking on the village green or having an inquisitive wander. As welcome as they are other visitors of quite a different genetic group are even more welcome. They have heralded the arrival of early summertime for centuries past. They arrive, not by sea ferry, jet aircraft or through the channel tunnel, but by courtesy of favourable winds. They are encouraged to travel by a sun that rises daily higher in our Northern hemisphere to chase away the chilly days of the early year. Yes, the swallows are back again. A pair has already begun to swoop in and out of my pony’s stable to check out their usual nesting site and that it is still available. The cuckoo’s penetrating call was loud and clear about the same time near to Windwhistle Farm. By Moat Farm even that most delicate of birds, the spotted flycatcher, had arrived 2 weeks earlier than usual and was busily catching insects from a perch provided by the tall stem of an oil seed rape plant. Blackcaps, willow warblers and white throats, if not readily seen, can be heard if a quiet walk is taken along some track or footpath bounded by an all concealing dense hedgerow.

On the farms sprayers, with their wide booms and operators dressed for the occasion, have been much in evidence. It should not be automatically assumed that they are always dispensing death to all creatures great and small. Warm and damp weather quickly encourages mildew to form on green leaf surfaces. This requires a fungicide to be sprayed on the crop. Having encouraged rapid growth of cereals, they can outgrow their own strength. The crop can be sprayed with straw stiffener to prevent it keeling over when the grain is ripening, with the resultant yield loss. Of course insecticides are also applied but usually only when the potential yield of the crop is in danger by a high infestation of aphids. Oil seed rape requires the pollination of its flowers by bees and other insects, to produce seed A heavy infestation of the pollen flea beetle needs controlling. It is believed the spray does not harm bees. Spraying can also be done very early and late in the day when bee activity is at its lowest.

What a year it has been for cowslips! Quite the best display of this wild flower, so synonymous with the English countryside, could be seen as you travel between Forward Green and Earl Stonham. In fact, dare I say, the farm and gardens are thriving as we slowly approach the last harvest of this century.

Roger Sykes