Recent years have allowed autumn to drift well into November. In fact winter often remains in the “wings” until January has arrived. Will you recall this autumn as I do, as a season of “drunken” like crane flies, hedgerows with cascades of blackberries and large gatherings of caterpillars on the winter cabbage plants? The crane flies or daddy long legs were especially numerous. Their larvae called leather jackets are particularly tasty to rooks and starlings. You probably saw flocks of these birds industriously feeding on the leather jackets on your lawn. Caterpillars of the common cabbage-white butterfly quickly munch through what should be eventually yours! If you are reluctant to use a chemical spray you have little choice but to hand pick them from the leaves, or possibly hose them off with a jet of water.
The farming world allows for no let up in its labours, even though the combine harvester is under wraps until another harvest time. Seed beds are prepared and a good acreage of next year’s wheat and oil seed rape has already begun to appear where only a few short weeks ago there was stubble. Loads of sugar beet pass through our villages every day. It is interesting to reflect that when a 20 ton load of sugar beet passes you by, 70 paper bags of sugar will come back to somebody’s shop and ultimately be consumed, one way or another, by all of us.
If the good number of the hornbeams, oaks and chestnut trees that have been planted along the roadside and in odd corners survive our drought like conditions, our parish roads and lanes will take on a pleasing aspect in a few years time. We shall owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers who planted them.
Other far sighted folk are doing their bit to ensure that rare species of once familiar farm animals survive. Two sandy coloured Tamworth pigs have been acquired and now reside amongst us!