The Countryside About Us: October 1991

posted 27 Sep 2011, 11:50 by James Mansell
One of the less agreeable indicators that the cereal harvest is “safely gathered in” are massive plumes of smoke hanging on our Suffolk horizons.  It is true a “good burn” made for a weed free beginning for the next crop, and, at the same time, removed, at little cost, unwanted straw. The benefits, as many arable farmers agreed, were rather negated by a variety of problems associated with smoke and fire. The upshot is that we wave a cheerful farewell to burning straw before next years harvest. The farmer, in most cases, already uses new cultivation machinery and techniques to bury the straw. The paper and building industry is also providing a limited demand for straw usage as an alternative to wood pulp.  On some fields big round netted bales, rather photogenically I think, reside on the stubble until shipped out for winter use.

August and early September is the silent period for our garden birds. Moulting is taking place, and I daresay, being partly feathered makes our normally bold blackbirds, thrushes and robins feel, if not ashamed, then somewhat vulnerable! By now, however, our garden birds should be much in evidence, especially if food is being put out for them. The best indication that fruit is ripe and ready for picking is the close attendance of our feathered friends. My modest grape vine is the “rendezvous”  for every  blackbird in the Parish.

It is good to see, in many gardens, well established or newly dug ponds. These provide not only a focal  point for the garden, but also a much needed “watering hole” for birds and small mammals alike. It is quite important, however, to ensure that some sort of incline plain enables easy access in and out of the water. Without this, a watery grave for a thirsty hedgehog might well be the result.

Roger Sykes